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This week’s expiration of the $600 boost to unemployment benefits would leave millions of Americans without a vital source of income amid a global pandemic.
As of this writing, nearly 32 million Americans are claiming unemployment insurance benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Some states — including Nevada and Hawaii — are more vulnerable with a higher percentage of residents out of work.
To find the states most affected by the pending expiration of the additional $600 in unemployment benefits, we analyzed earnings data and the number of workers on unemployment insurance to determine the percentage of statewide earnings provided by the coronavirus relief bill.
In Nevada, the occupation with the highest number of workers is food preparation and service, but that industry has an unemployment rate of more than 24%, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
With its major industries struggling, many Nevada workers are relying on unemployment insurance. Overall, the state has an unemployment insurance rate of 21.3%. MagnifyMoney estimates that the extra $600 per week from the coronavirus aid bill was providing nearly $178 million a week, or about 14.1% of total weekly earnings.
Further complicating this, new coronavirus cases remain high in the state, so it’ll be difficult to get workers back if tourists can’t feel safe in Nevada. Consumer spending in Nevada as of July 12 was 8% lower than it was in January, but that likely accounts for recovery payments that began in April. At the lowest point at the end of March, consumer spending in Nevada was 38% lower than in January.
Hawaii, like Nevada, depends on tourism to propel its economy. About 13% of employees work in food preparation and serving-related occupations. Overall, roughly 20.7% of state workers are on unemployment insurance. We estimate the additional $600-per-week payments account for 11.8% of total earnings in the state.
Hawaii has the second-lowest number of total cases in the country, behind Vermont. The state requires out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days, which could discourage travelers and prevent certain tourism-related industries from ramping up.
Starting Sept. 1, visitors can get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their trip to Hawaii and avoid the 14-day quarantine if they can show proof of a negative result.
Louisiana is the third-most dependent state on the extra unemployment benefits, according to MagnifyMoney’s analysis. The unemployment insurance rate here — 16.6% — is a bit lower than in Nevada and Hawaii.
But Louisiana benefited more than a lot of states from the flat $600 per week benefit because of lower weekly earnings and the low cost of living in the state. The average Louisiana worker earns $850 a week, compared with $908 a week in Nevada and $1,056 a week in Hawaii. We estimate that the total weekly earnings in the state are $1.6 billion, and that weekly income from the extra $600 in unemployment benefits is equal to just under $188 million — or 11.7% of weekly earnings.
In the state, consumer spending has recovered and is higher now than it was in January. Much of the recovery came after the coronavirus relief bill was signed into law at the end of March. Without the extra unemployment benefits and because of a recent spike in positive cases — in fact, New Orleans has again shut down bars — that spending figure will be one to watch.
Idaho has the lowest unemployment insurance rate in the country at 3.9%. MagnifyMoney estimates this state receives just over $17 million per week in additional unemployment benefits, compared with overall weekly earnings of just under $643 million. That means the extra unemployment benefits are worth just 2.7% of overall earnings.
Idaho has a low number of workers in two key industries compared with other states:
These two industries have been hit particularly hard across the country, so Idaho’s economy may be less vulnerable because of its lack of reliance on these sectors.
The other economic indicators for Idaho are also strong. Spending is up 2.7% as of July 12 compared with January, while time spent outside the home is approaching normal levels.
We estimate additional unemployment benefits from the coronavirus relief bill are worth about 3% of total earnings in Utah. Roughly 4.7% of workers in the state are on unemployment insurance, third-lowest in the country.
Utah is traditionally a good state to find work. In December 2019, the state saw its lowest unemployment rate — 2.4%. Unlike other states where retail salespersons are among the most common workers, the most common in Utah is customer support representatives, a job that generally can be handled remotely.
Workers in Utah make an average of $950 a week, fourth-highest in the bottom 10. Utah has seen a recent rise in coronavirus cases, which may put its strong economic position in jeopardy.
Unemployment hasn’t been a huge problem in Wyoming. Department of Labor data shows the state has an unemployed insurance rate of 5.1%, far below other states at the top. One potential reason is the state’s reliance on construction and extraction jobs. The construction industry has an average unemployment rate similar to the national average.
After factoring in local weekly wages of $957 a week, we estimate that the additional unemployment benefits are worth about 3.2% of total earnings.
If the diminished $200-a-week benefit plan were passed into law, states would lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars per week. Nevada, for example, would go from receiving roughly $178 million a week based on current unemployment numbers to just over $59 million.
A theory behind the less generous benefits is that it will encourage people to return to work. With total job postings — as of July 24 — roughly 20% below where they were in January, it’s hard to see where the jobs might come from.
And according to data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (July 9 to 14), roughly 43% of people relying on unemployment benefits say they have little or no confidence in their ability to pay next month’s rent. With evictions resuming across the country, many unemployment benefits recipients may end up without income or shelter, which could potentially worsen coronavirus outbreaks.
To determine the states losing the most from the expiration of the additional unemployment benefits, we first calculated the total amount earned in each state from the benefits by multiplying the number of people on unemployment insurance by $600 (the value of the additional benefits). We divided this number by the total weekly earnings in the state to create a comparative statistic. We then ranked the states from highest to lowest using this figure. Data on uninsurance claims (up to July 18) comes from the Department of Labor, while data on 2019 weekly earnings comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.