25 States Unemployment Claims Are Rising the Most

25 States Unemployment Claims Are Rising the Most


As Americans enter into yet another presidential election cycle, unemployment rates are often a hot topic of discussion and frequently play a significant role in choosing a candidate. With 6.3 million Americans currently unemployed, both parties must present a compelling case that leads to victory.

Although unemployment rates per state are still at an overall low, increases in claims are occurring in key states. The data compiled by WalletHub from stats released in January compared 50 states and the District of Columbia based on unemployment claims over several weeks, as well as considering the number of claims per 100,000 people in the labor force.

1. New York

Central Park West, New York
Image Credit: Gimas/Shutterstock.

The state of New York ranks first in the highest unemployment rate claims. It saw the most significant increase of claims year-to-date vs. the same period of 2023. 

2. Oregon

Oregon 1
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Oregon came in second for highest unemployment rate claims but first per 100,000 people in the labor force. Residents still see long-lasting effects of labor shortages and job losses due to the pandemic.

However, VanderHouwen optimistically reports that the unemployment rate in 2024 is projected to be 4.2%, which is low and stable.

3. New Jersey

Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Image Credit: Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0 /Wiki Commons.

The Garden State showed a staggering 2571.17% rate increase in unemployment claims from last January to this year but dropped to -5.76% in January 2024. 

The New Jersey Department of Labor has proposed an ambitious agenda to improve its labor shortage with a statewide minimum of $15 per hour and enforcing worker protections. 

4. West Virginia

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Image Credit: Shutterstock.

West Virginia saw a 25.02% increase in unemployment, resulting in the number four spot for most job loss claims. Although the state has recovered all jobs lost during the pandemic, several counties still struggle to regain the same opportunities, resulting in a higher unemployment rate overall.  

5. Iowa

Downtown, Newton, Iowa
Image Credit: Gtkn, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wiki Commons.

The residents of Iowa are feeling the pain of unemployment. The state experienced the most considerable increase in unemployment claims the week of January 22, 2024, compared to the same week just a year before. 

6. District of Columbia

Watergate Gas Station Washington DC
Image Credit: Atlas Obscura.

Coming in at #6 for the highest unemployment claim location, the District of Columbia is experiencing a rate of 131 people per 100,000 in job losses.

7. California

Hollywood, California
Image Credit: View Apart/Shutterstock.

California experienced a 15.71% increase in claims in January 2024 compared to the same period as last year, landing it in the seventh spot for highest unemployment claims. 

8. Alabama

shutterstock 1468784054 2
Image Credit: George Dodd III / Shutterstock.

Compared to the same period as last year in 2023, Alabama saw an 11.51% increase in claims, ranking eighth for highest unemployment in the states. 

9. Arkansas

Fayetteville Downtown Square and Gardens, Arkansas
Image Credit: Dean/Fayetteville Downtown Square and Gardens.

Per a November 2023 report by KATV, Arkansas is experiencing one of the “nation’s most severe workforce shortages.” Those numbers were reflected in WalletHub’s January 2024 unemployment claims analysis. 144 of every 100,000 Arkansas residents have experienced job loss. 

10. Wisconsin

Broadway street in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, USA
Image Credit: Runner1928, CC0, Wikimedia Commons.

Like many other issues, the pandemic has contributed to job shortages and unemployment rates, and Wisconsin has seen its fair share of these claims. With a reported increase of 31.48% from January 2024 compared to January 2023, the state ranks as number ten on the list. 

11. Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska
Image Credit: TripWalkers / Shutterstock.

In just two weeks in January, Alaska saw a 12.29% increase in unemployment claims, putting them at #11 of states with the highest unemployment rates. According to the Anchorage Daily News, “The growing shortage of working-age residents means there are two job openings for every unemployed person looking for work in the state, the state’s Labor Department said in its Alaska Economic Trends report this month.” 

12. Pennsylvania

Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Image Credit: Mobilus In Mobili, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Pennsylvania has an uphill battle regarding its workforce, with 237 residents of 100K claiming unemployment. One of the contributing factors to the state’s employment woes is related to significant layoffs across multiple industries, from retail to healthcare, per NewsBreak.

13. Rhode Island

Rhode Island
Image Credit: Kate Scott / Shutterstock.

Rhode Island has seen a 7.09% increase in unemployment in two weeks at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, the state has reported a worker shortage of 0.63, indicating only 63 workers for every 100 jobs. 

14. Mississippi

Natchez, Mississippi
Image Credit: Nina Alizada/Shutterstock.

At the end of last year, WJTV reported that Mississippi is one of the worst states for finding a job. Additionally, Mississippi has the third-lowest starting salary and the fifth-lowest median income nationwide.

15. Vermont

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Image credit: Deposit Photos. 

Per WalletHub, Vermont ranks 15th in the unemployment ratings per state. This report might be due to an aging population and a need for more available jobs in the state. The state experienced an almost 26% increase in unemployment claims over two weeks in January.

16. Nevada

henderson nevada
Image Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos/Shutterstock.

In a year-to-date vs. the same period analysis in 2023, Nevada unemployment rates rose by 354.42%. CNN recently reported, “In tourism-dependent Nevada, the unemployment rate rocketed even higher, topping at 30.6% that month. The Las Vegas metro area, the hardest hit in the nation, saw its jobless rate soar to 34%.”

17. Michigan

Detroit, MI
Image Credit: nvphoto/Shutterstock.

Although Michigan did see a slight decline in unemployment claims in the January 2024 week-over-week analysis, the Great Lakes state saw a devastating 42.34% increase in claims in the same report in the latest week vs. the same week of 2023 with a total of 203 per 100K people in the labor force. 

18. Connecticut

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Image Credit: Shutterstock.

With an unfortunate job loss of 2,500 in December 2023, Connecticut’s unemployment claims increased by 15.30% compared to last year. Fred Carstensen, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Business and director of the state Center for Economic Analysis, shared that the data is “worrisome and discouraging.”

19. Washington

seattle washington
Image Credit: George Dodd III/Shutterstock.com.

Washington saw an increase of 25.66% in claims from January 2023 to the same period in 2024. “Historically, the unemployment rate in Washington has been higher than the U.S. average, due primarily to a relatively high share of resource-based industries in the state which have more volatile seasonal employment patterns,” per Washington’s Office of Financial Management.  

20. Hawaii

Image Credit: Shane Myers/Shutterstock.

Hawaii comes in at 20 for the most significant increase in unemployment claims; however, according to KITV Island News, there is also a labor shortage across the islands. So why are the numbers increasing rather than decreasing? Per Dr. Michael D. Noel, Professor, Department of Economics at Texas Tech University, the hiring dynamic is “very much” in the employer’s favor, indicating this is a “very good time, and an easier time than usual, to find a good-paying job.”

21. Kentucky

The Kentucky Theater, Lexington
Image Credit: Tamanoeconomico – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Although the Bluegrass state didn’t see a drastic overall change in unemployment claims at -38.38%, Kentucky experienced a 6.42% increase in claims in January 2024. 

22. South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
Image Credit: Khanrak – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

As of January 22, 2024, South Carolina saw a shocking increase of 20.98% in unemployment claims, with 102 of every 100K people per capita reporting a job loss. According to WBTW, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also reports that South Carolina has 43 available workers for every 100 jobs, making it more severe than other states, like New Jersey, which has 84 workers for every 100 jobs.

23. Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota at night
Image Credit: Amy Mingo, CC 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Shy of 25% with a change in unemployment claims, Minnesota lands at number 23 on the list of states with the highest job loss claims. At the end of last year, KNSI reported that the state’s job market is faltering, which has led to early 2024 reporting of claims. 

24. Ohio

Scenic overlook on a rainy day
Image Credit: Belikova Oksana. 

With a 21.82% reporting in claims from January 2023 to this January, Ohio ranks 24th among the states with the highest unemployment. New Herald reported the Labor Department said that new jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased to 6,227 in the week ending February 17, up from 5,369 the week before.

25. Louisiana

New Orleans
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Pelican State saw a staggering increase of 31.04% over two weeks last month. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent report indicates Louisiana has only 55 available workers for every 100 open jobs, placing the state in the more severe category of labor shortage.

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