Updated: States Hit Hardest by Unemployment Claims – WalletHub Study

With nearly 43 million Americans losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and new unemployment claims this week higher than in the same week last year, WalletHub today released updated rankings for the States Hit Most by Unemployment Claims, along with accompanying videos. This report is a follow-up to our report on the Cities with the Biggest Increases in Unemployment Rates.

To identify which states’ workforces have been hurt the most by COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on increases in unemployment claims during the latest week for which we have data (May 25) and overall since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis (March 16). We used this data to rank the most impacted states for both periods. Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A. To see the states most impacted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Most Affected States Last Week Least Affected States Last Week
1. Florida 42. Rhode Island
2. Georgia 43. Wyoming
3. Maine 44. Missouri
4. Oklahoma 45. Pennsylvania
5. Mississippi 46. Arkansas
6. Kentucky 47. New Jersey
7. New Hampshire 48. Montana
8. Virginia 49. Vermont
9. North Carolina 50. Idaho
10. Maryland 51. Iowa

To view the full report and your state’s rank, please visit:

Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a phone, Skype or in-studio interview with one of our analysts. Full data sets for specific states are also available upon request. In addition, feel free to embed this YouTube video summarizing the study on your website. You can also use or edit these raw files as you see fit.

WalletHub Q&A

Will the recent unrest across the U.S. affect unemployment?

“The recent rioting seen in many states will have an impact on unemployment, as it comes at a time when many businesses are just beginning to reopen after being closed for months during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “This could be devastating for business owners who need to rebuild at a time when they already lack revenue, as well as for the employees of those businesses who will join the tens of millions of Americans already without a job.”

Should states always look at base pay when determining eligibility for unemployment benefits?

“States should not always look at base pay when deciding who is eligible to receive unemployment benefits, as this can end up disqualifying service workers who make far less than minimum wage and rely mainly on tips,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “When determining unemployment insurance eligibility, states should consider each applicant’s full total taxable income for the 12 months prior to unemployment. We cannot deny people the ability to make ends meet just because their pay is structured a certain way, especially during the economic devastation of this pandemic.”

Should we be optimistic about the impact that reopening states will have on the job market?

“From an economic standpoint, we should be optimistic about states reopening because it will be a huge benefit to the job market, if managed responsibly. Businesses that previously were closed for months will finally get some revenue again, allowing them to build up the resources to start rehiring,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “In order to make sure this reopening has the best possible impact on the job market, states should enforce social distancing measures at all places of business. While 30 percent of Americans would be comfortable shopping in person now without any protective measures, an additional 34 percent would be comfortable if everyone wore masks, according to WalletHub research.”

How has the unemployment rate in New York – the state with the most COVID-19 cases – been affected?

“New York has seen an 85% increase in initial unemployment claims from the beginning of 2020 to the week of May 25,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “This is better than the average increase of 497%.”