Story at a glance

  • The findings come as total U.S. unemployment reaches near-record lows. 

  • Overall, 25 states saw their unemployment claims drop week-over-week, with the largest decreases reported in New Hampshire, North Carolina and Arkansas.

  • However, high inflation and an impending recession could lead unemployment to rise again. 

Week-over-week, Kentucky saw the largest drop in unemployment claims in the country, according to a new analysis from WalletHub

The large drop seen in Kentucky was accompanied by decreases in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee, respectively. Overall, a total of 25 states saw total unemployment claims last week lower than those reported the previous week.

Following near-record unemployment highs seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has reduced that total to near-record lows, the report reads. Last week, there were 217,000 applications for unemployment benefits, a decrease of around 1,000. 

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But high inflation and the threat of a recession could lead rates to spike once again. 

To determine where unemployment claims are dropping the most, researchers compared changes from last week (Oct 24, 2022) to the same week in 2021 and to the same week in 2019, pre-pandemic. 

They also assessed the number of claims per 100,000 individuals in the labor force in each state and Washington, D.C.

A total of 11 states, including South Carolina, Colorado, Kansas, Georgia and Indiana, reported unemployment claims last week that were greater than those during the same week in 2021. 

However, every state had lower claims than those reported during the same week pre-pandemic with the exception of Connecticut, Wyoming, Alabama, Nevada, Michigan, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, Idaho, Alaska, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Florida and Indiana, researchers found. 

Unemployment claims in Republican states tended to recover more quickly than those in Democratic states, data show. Party affiliation was based on how each state voted in the 2020 presidential election. 

West Virginia, Delaware, Mississippi, Maryland and New Mexico rounded out the top 10 states that saw the greatest decreases in unemployment claims this week compared with the week of Oct. 24. 

Conversely, Oregon, Alaska, and Rhode Island ranked last on the list, respectively, with regard to week-over-week unemployment drops. 

When it comes to the number of claims per 100,000 people in the labor force, Virginia, New Hampshire, South Dakota, North Carolina, and Tennessee boasted the fewest claims, while Alaska, Oregon and California had the highest totals at 344, 212, and 211 per 100,000, respectively. 

Looking to the foreseeable future, “unemployment will increase as the economy starts to cool and the recession enters its early stages,” Henry H. Perritt Jr. of the Illinois Tech Chicago-Kent College of Law told WalletHub. 

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