📈U.S. Unemployment Charts (States A to M)

Hello! And welcome to another edition of Inside The Newsroom where we’ll be looking at how bad the unemployment situation is in every single U.S. state. On a macro level, the U.S. hasn’t seen this level of unemployment claims since at least the 1960’s, with 6.6 million total claims being made across the country. The surge has been so great that the 2008 financial crisis appears as a small ripple compared to the coronavirus fall out. And it’s pretty much the same story in every state, from the almost one million unemployed workers in California, to the more than 30,000 claims in New Hampshire. Because of the enormity of the situation, and Substack’s email length limitations, we’ve had to split today’s edition into two. Below is a breakdown of states between A and M, and here are states between N and Z.

I’d like to thank Pia Deshpande for another huge assist with today’s newsletter, as well as today’s beautiful charts. If you’re in the position to hire a data journalist, look no further than Pia.

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Okay, let’s get to it…

Weekly Unemployment Claims, States Over 200,000 for March 28 👇

Weekly Unemployment Claims, States Between 50,000-200,000 for March 28 👇

Weekly Unemployment Claims, States Below 50,000 for March 28 👇

For context, below is a chart of every state’s percent change to give a sense of how bad each state compares with one another. Apologies for the small print.

Percent Change in Weekly Unemployment Claims 👇

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More than 90,000 new unemployment claims were filed in the past two weeks, including a 636 percent increase in just the past week alone. The Alabama Department of Labor announced on Monday they've already paid more than $6 million in COVID-19-related unemployment compensation. As you'll soon find out, Alabama has actually been one of the least hardest hit states.


In Alaska, where unemployment claims fell from the previous week five times already this year, new claims spiked 600 percent two weeks ago and by a further 85 percent last week. But self-employed and gig workers will have to wait at least four weeks before even applying for benefits, because they don't pay employment security tax. In 2018, there were more than 43,000 self-employed and gig workers in the state.


Any Arkansan who has lost work because of the virus will be eligible to receive a $600 weekly payment from the federal government, in addition to a weekly payment of between $81 and $451 from the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, based on a worker's salary history, and are paid out over a 16-week period. More than 200,000 people could receive the funding by the end of this week, including 118,000 self-employed residents.


Total new claims over the past two weeks are roughly 120,000. Workers could only receive $240 a week initially, as the $600 federal payments are only for work lost between March 28 and July 31. To contextualize the downturn in Arizona, jobs grew for 112 straight months until the virus hit.


Almost 900,000 unemployment claims were made last week in California, which typically averages around 45,000 per week. As a result of the staggering surge of claims in the Golden State, the state's Employment Development Department is struggling to cope. There have been reports of people calling up to 100 times per day without a response. For the hundreds of thousands of freelancers, federal insurance laws have yet to be implemented, meaning gig workers cannot yet file.



Colorado's new claims soared to more than 60,000 in the latest week’s filings, an increase of almost 3,000 percent from the typical month which sees about 2,000 claims. Absolutely nuts. To give some context, the peak claims during a week in the financial crisis was 7,749 in January, 2010.


Like many states, Connecticut's Department of Labor is struggling to process all the new claims, with almost 60,000 over the past two weeks. The backlog of cases means many unemployed in the state may not see financial assistance for up to five weeks.


The Diamond State is among the worst-hit states of all with an approximate 3,700 percent increase in claims from two weeks ago. As of Monday, about 60 percent of the cases had been processed, again leaving a huge backlog that will leave many without any money at all.

District of Columbia

New unemployment claims in D.C. have stabilized from last week, which now sit a tad under 15,000. That's positive news. The bad news is that the website to file a claim has crashed. A project to overhaul D.C.'s unemployment website was supposed to be completed in 2018, but missed several milestones costing $9 million along the way. And it's still not ready, which will have dire consequences for workers in the District.


Claims in Florida jumped from 6,500 in the week ending March 14 to 227,000 the week ending March 28, a meteoric rise of 3,400 percent. The Sunshine state is just another example of how utterly unprepared public officials have been for a pandemic. And it’s also another state whose unemployment system has failed, and residents have been forced to fill out paper claims. There is no room for Plan B during a pandemic. Plan A should have been planned for. Period.


The good news for Georgians is that they’re part of the least exposed economy of any state to weather a storm, according to a study by WalletHub. The bad news is that the state’s moronic governor Brian Kemp said that he found out people showing no symptoms of the virus could still pass it on to others weeks after everyone else in the world already knew. My heart goes out to the people from the Peach State.


Hawaii is one of a few states whose economy almost entirely relies on tourism. As a result, new unemployment claims were 1,600 two weeks ago, and now sit at 49,000, an increase of 3,000 percent. It feels weird to just list numbers like that, but the economy in Hawaii has virtually ground to a complete halt.


Most local news websites in Idaho don't grant access to people of the European kind — bloody GDPR! — but what I can say about Idaho, along with many other states, is that the 32,240 people in the state to file for unemployment last week is only the tip of the iceberg. That figure doesn't include the hundreds of thousands whose lives will almost certainly still be economically impacted down the line.


Different state, same old shitty story. Illinois' Department of Employment Security website has been on and offline for the past couple of weeks amid the mountain of claims. Governor J.B. Pritzker reassured his people, though, by telling them that the state's IT infrastructure hasn't been invested in in about 10 years.


Governor Eric Holcomb officially extended his state's stay-at-home order Monday, with only essential businesses — grocery stores, supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, pet stores — allowed to remain open. For every other business, online and curb-side sales are allowed depending on the type of business. That will mean plenty more unemployment claims in the weeks to come.


Amid the stormy waters up in Iowa, workers were at least thrown a lifeboat, though small in size. The Iowa Workforce Development changed its unemployment policy to no longer require workers to use all paid leave prior to being eligible for unemployment benefits. Still, the total compensation is set to be gigantic and tough to sustain on a monthly basis.


Governors like Laura Kelly are admittedly in impossible situations, as no state was ready for such a pandemic. But that's just it. People pay taxes for public officials to protect them in moments like these. And in Kansas, Kelly's plea for workers filing unemployment claims to be patient just isn’t good enough when credit card and medical bills must be repaid. They don't get to tell the credit card and insurance companies to be patient, so it's hard to feel sorry for the officials paid handsomely to manage crises like this one.


Kentucky is just one state that's come out on the wrong side of the bidding war for crucial protective medical equipment between other states and the federal government. And governor Andy Beshear has finally had enough and publicly called the feds out.


Louisiana has seen one of the largest rises in claims of any state, soaring around 4,400 percent from two weeks ago. Before the virus broke out, unemployment in the state was around 5 percent, but that could rise to as high as 45 percent, according to William Rodgers, former chief economist at the US Department of Labor.


Maine's unemployment filings increased almost 3,300 percent from the week of March 14 to the week of March 21, and added about the same amount of new claims in the week to March 28. Like many states, whether people actually receive payments depends on whether the state’s unemployment fund can weather the length of the virus.


Despite some website troubles, Marylanders became eligible for unemployment benefits starting the day after they became separated from employment, unlike some other states which require workers to wait at least a week.


Workers in Massachusetts are among the hardest hit of any state, based on the number of unemployment claims per 1,000 workers at 47. It's also received little information on enacting parts of the CARES Act, which was designed to protect small businesses.


Claims in Michigan jumped a staggering 2,300 percent and a further 143 percent in the past two weeks, some of the highest figures in the country. Things are so bad that 1 in 10 of the workforce have filed a claim.


Governor Tim Waltz announced two executive orders this week. One allows Minnesotans to apply for out-of-state mental health treatment, and one that streamlines the process to apply for unemployment insurance. More than 100,000 claimed last week.


The Magnolia State has been one of the least hardest hit states, only jumping 380 percent and 460 percent in the past two weeks, respectively. Just as well, because Mississippi happens to pay the least of any state to people out of a job, and less than 1 in 10 unemployed workers receive benefits.


Missourians out of work are in for a rough time as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Show Me State continue to rise sharply. Missouri offers only 13 weeks of unemployment insurance per person, one of the lowest in the nation, a policy that will need to be expanded to avoid an even deeper crisis.


Montana has been hit hard as unemployment filings jumped by almost 1,800 percent from the week of March 14 to the week of March 21, and by another 27 percent for the week to March 28. Nearly 40,000 claims have been filed since the first positive COVID-19 case was confirmed in the state.

Last week…

#69 — James Spann (ABC 33/40) on the 2020 tornado outlook and how each state is preparing for tornadoes amid the pandemic

🤒 Pandemics That Changed History

#68 — Mckayla Wilkes (U.S. House) on running against 40-year Democrat Steny Hoyer, and the need for Universal Basic Income

… Next week

We’ll have Amy Webb on to talk about why governments and businesses have been so unprepared for this pandemic, and what 2020 could see with the latest technology trends.

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