Unemployment Stats in the United States

While the unemployment rate in the U.S. has improved considerably within the last few years, there are still millions of citizens who are without work. Business closings, hour shortages, and other factors contribute to the number of citizens who are currently seeking work. Recently the unemployment rate has been hovering around 8-8.5 percent. Unemployment has been a huge issue for political campaigns at all governmental levels as voters are looking for solutions. While there does not seem to be a definite solution to the issue, both employers and the government are working towards improving the issues that attribute to the overall unemployment.

unemployment_rate_graph 2015

Unemployment Insurance

In order to help those who are actively seeking employment, the federal government supplies unemployment insurance that is administered at the state level. The goal of unemployment insurance is to provide temporary relief until you return the work force and is administered on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Unemployment in the U.S.

As you will see from the map below, unemployment is not an issue for just certain areas. The highest levels of unemployment are in Nevada, Rhode Island and California. One area that has been severely plagued by unemployment is the West Coast. Two of the highest rates in the country are Nevada (11.6) and California (10.7). These coincidentally also happen to be areas that have been most heavily affected by the housing bubble burst of 2007 which has been the cause of many economic issues in the past several years.

Unemployment Rate by State 2012

As of June, the number of citizens who are receiving some sort of unemployment benefit was 5.8 million. This is a drop of almost 2 million from last year’s number of 7.3 million during the same period.  This could be a good sign of things to come.

Funding Unemployment Insurance

A common misconception is that unemployment insurance is funded by individual tax dollars. This governmental assistance is actually paid by employers who must pay state and federal unemployment tax in accordance with The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).

Applying for Unemployment

You can find the office that handles unemployment benefits in your state by selecting your location on the map here: Resources by State. Typically you can apply online or by phone. Refer to your state’s website for more information and eligibility requirements.

The best way to insure that you can receive benefits in a timely manner is to apply as soon as you become unemployed. Since states do not have a required wait period for citizens to apply, the sooner you can file the better.


  • Jell

    I was filing my weekly benefits for last week since no hours were worked. The prior week a partial week was claimed and paid. During the application it said to reopen your claim and answer yes to question one. I did that but am not sure now if the weekly benefit completed and will still be paid on Tuesday

    • No, you probably won’t be paid on Tuesday until you talk to a rep. Some states will reopen the claim in your situation, most will not until an investigation is completed as to why you are no longer reporting income. This is one of the pitfalls of working part-time – when the income stops, the states want to know why. Call your state on Monday.

    • Tamika Shonte Allen

      I was told by my supervisor that I was fired this morning and not given a good reason why I talk to my shop owner to confirm and he won’t give me a straight answer should I file unemployment

  • scott butler

    I was laid off for lack of work drew hi benefits for 5 months was rehired worked for 6 months was laid off again reopened my existing claim and drew the rest of the benefits out of that claim which was 3 checks and then I filed a new claim and it says active issues after I certified am I going to be able to draw again surely I will considering I was laid off and only drew 3 checks from my old claim and was approved for it again this isn’t a extension it’s a new claim I filed any help would be very appreciated

    • It’s a brand new claim, you will be able to collect once it has been processed and approved. Next time you have a Q, post on the page for the state which is paying your benefits, because each state is very different.

  • RA

    I live in Maryland but have not been employed in Maryland for over 6 years. I was self-employed in Maryland with other sources of income for the past 5 years, which have now ceased. Before that time I was employed in Maryland earning over $100,000 annually. Now that the self-employed income has stopped, would I qualify for unemployment ? I have lived and worked in Maryland for over 20 years.

    • Unemployment benefits are paid based on eligible W-2 earnings in the base period. If you apply now, MD will review W-2 earnings July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016. Since you’ve been self-employed for the past five years, there are no wages on which to base a claim. Further, even if you had W-2 wages during the available base period, the SE work precludes you collecting on those wages. In order to qualify for benefits, the last job you had must be W-2. States consider SE work within your control. You can CHOOSE whether or not to work, whereas W-2 work is controlled by the employer who can, against your will, choose to discharge you. Therein lies the difference.

  • Sam

    Termed from my job on Oct 3 for misconduct due to an arrest that yielded criminal charges. My friend I gave a ride to when stopped and searched he had drugs and denied they were his. I told my boss the truth as to why I was detained (unpaid ticket) at the time the officer was not sure who he was charging with the criminal charges and I was released only to find out the officer charged me as well as the passenger. Did I commit misconduct if I was unaware of the criminal charges against me?

    • Well, not technically, but you will need to prove that. The first step is to get that ticket reversed and off your record. You better see an attorney. Otherwise, any state will probably deny benefits because you are on record as being charged with possession.

      • Michael

        I am working full time in construction. My employers customer shut our job site down for one week. My boss said I could apply for the down week as “lack of work”. Last day worked was 11-19-16.
        Go back to work on 11-29-16. Seeking compinsation for week begining 11-20 thru 11-27-2016.

        • Michael

          I already have an open claim from earlier in the year. Concerning the week of no work caused by employers customer shutting down the job for 10 days.

          • Call your state to reopen that claim – immediately. You actually should have done this last week as soon as the layoff occurred. Hopefully, your state will still reopen the claim and allow you to claim last week. There is a chance that window has closed – it depends on your state.

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