The 20 Best And Worst Cities For Unemployment Benefits

Losing a job is bad enough, but your unemployment benefits can vary wildly depending on where you live. The L.A. Times compared unemployment benefits to the cost of living and picked the twenty best and worst cities to be unemployed.

The 10 Best Cities

1. Pittsburgh, Pa.—$539 per week

2. Charlotte, N.C.—$457 per week

3. Raleigh, N.C.—$457 per week

4. Boston, Mass.—$600 per week

5. Philadelphia, Pa.—$539 per week

6. Providence, R.I.—$531 per week

7. Salt Lake City, Utah—$427 per week

8. San Antonio, Texas—$378 per week

9. Seattle, Wash.—$515 per week

10. Houston, Texas—$378 per week

The 10 Worst Cities

10. Los Angeles, Calif.—$450 per week

9. Nashville, Tenn.—$275 per week

8. Kansas City, KS-MO—$280 per week

7. Tampa, Fla.—$275 per week

6. Orlando, Fla.—$275 per week

5. Washington, D.C.—$359 per week

4. San Francisco, Calif.—$450 per week

3. Phoenix, Ariz.—$240 per week

2. Miami, Fla.—$275 per week

1. New York, N.Y.—$405 per week

If your job falls prey to the ongoing not-recession, read up on our tips for saving cash and consider potential ways to make the most of unemployment.

Best and worst cities for unemployment pay [L.A. Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Azmodan says:

    Are unemployment benefits taxed? Otherwise if you were single you could at least survive on most of those.

  2. kable2 says:

    how long do the UI payments last ? how many weeks?

  3. bwcbwc says:

    Also, is unemployment income counted against qualifying for other sorts of aid like foodstamps? If some of those states that pay higher unemployment benefits push a recipient out of qualifying range for other aid, the lower paying states aren’t quite as bad, then. Assuming that $275/week qualifies you for foodstamps.

  4. bruhkgb says:

    @Azmodan: UE benefits are taxable.

  5. nybiker says:

    @Azmodan: Here in New York City, unemployment benefits are taxable income. They withhold 10% (for the Federal income tax) of that $405, so you get a check for $364.50. And since New York State and City have income taxes, you will need to report it the following calendar year as income and since there were no withholdings, you might have to pay the state on it (of course, that depends on your total income for the year).

    As for the length, 26 weeks is the current number, unless there is any sort of extension.

    I don’t know if it’s held against you for other types of aid.

    Although I am single, I have a home (with a mortgage) so there’s no way I can live on the $364.50 per week. It doesn’t even cover my mortgage payment. But you were asking about me, though.

  6. azntg says:

    @Azmodan: To the best of my knowledge, yes they are. Unemployment payments are taxable.

    $405/week in New York City doesn’t sound so bad, until you include in real estate (if you don’t own your own home), utilities, transportation costs, taxes, food and other basic necessities for living, etc.

    By the end of the month, boy I sure hope you had some money saved. You’re going to be in the negative balance with just $405/week.

    If you’re trying to balance stuff like cable TV, high speed internet, landline/cellular phones too, God help you!

  7. Unemployment benefits are taxable. In Florida they do count against state benefits. As a single mother, with rent of $850 a month I did not qualify for food stamps or Medicaid. Also since I was receiving unemployment, I did not qualify for cash assistance or training through workforce council.

  8. ngoandy says:

    I know college graduates making less than $539 a week in Pittsburgh. A dozen or so of my friends in a variety of fields for a variety of companies.

    That is pretty impressive pay. I’m pretty sure UE is based on your pay from the past few months. So the $539 may be for people bringing in 6 figures before they became unemployed. I have no factual basis for this since I’ve never tried claiming unemployment.

  9. Hawk07 says:

    I’d be happy with unemployment benefits at all of those rates.

  10. brettt says:

    how did you determine that list if not by the amount? New York is listed as number one worst, yet looks better than 7 of the ones above it. It is also better than some on the “best” list?

  11. usa_gatekeeper says:

    Since Boston is at the top of the list, here’s a little more perspective on Boston and Massachusetts … the $600 is far from automatic … but there are other programs connected to the unemployment program:

    Claimants receive a weekly benefit of approximately 50 percent of their average weekly wage, UP TO the maximum. As mentioned above, the current MAXIMUM benefit rate is $600 a week.

    The first week you are eligible to receive benefits is your “waiting period”. You will not receive payment for this week.

    The maximum number of weeks a claimant can collect full benefits is 30 weeks. HOWEVER, many individuals qualify for something LESS THAN than 30 weeks.

    You may also be eligible to receive food stamps, housing assistance and energy assistance.

    If you are the whole or main support of your children, you may be eligible for a weekly dependency allowance of $25 for each child who meets eligibility requirements.

    In most circumstances, severance pay is considered income and you cannot collect benefits for the same weeks you are receiving severance pay.

    Your benefits may be affected by any pension or social security benefits you are receiving.

    Your benefits are taxable and you are responsible for paying the federal and state taxes.

    Workers in the following categories are **NOT** eligible to collect benefits:

    * employees of churches and certain religious organizations;
    * worker trainees in a program administered by a non-profit or public institution;
    * real estate brokers or insurance agents who work on a commission basis only;
    * consultants working independently;
    * elected officials and those in policy-making and advisory positions;
    * and members of a legislative body, or the judiciary.

  12. K-Bo says:

    @brettt: Cost of living combined with how much you would get. NY may give you more money, but the money will not go as far.

  13. HollerJoller says:

    I love UE – it helps you get on your feet! I got it for 13 months in Colorado $400 a week – I was only getting paid $1400 a month when I was working. So it was a raise for me. The thing is, it gave me time to go to school and graduate, which I would have never finished with out it. Now I have a degree, a house, a better job and I owe it all to UE benefits…so getting layed off isn’t so bad.

  14. Squeaks says:

    @usa_gatekeeper: okay, you covered pretty much everything I was going to say. And one thing that people mentioned about taxes, is that you can elect whether to have your taxes taken out for each unemployment payment or to just pay taxes later (most likely following the IRS payment schedule).

  15. DrJimmy says:

    Yo Carey;
    $378.00/week is the most anyone can get from the Texas Workforce Commission’s Unemployment Insurance Benefits fund.

    Did you make 35k/yr? You get $378.00/week.
    Did you make 1.9$ million/yr? You get $378.00/week.

    TWC/UI squeezes the Eagle so hard that The Governor of Texas has suspended collecting UI taxes for the rest of 2008.

    As an employer I’m not offended by this at all, even though the Governor here is a schmuck.

  16. etc says:

    What happened to dignity and pride? I would starve before going on unemployment. I know my parents are the same way.

    I fight fallacious unemployment claims all the time, and I myself don’t have a clue how to apply for unemployment.

    If you are on unemployment, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    I’ve gone through some very rough financial times, but not once did I EVER consider taking money from someone else.

    The reason I take care of my dog is because it doesn’t possess the ability to sustain himself. Are you a dog?

  17. Joe S Chmo says:

    The best unemployment plan is to always be looking for another job because layoffs could come at any time. If you start looking before a layoff you will get another job that much quicker. That is the reality of today’s economy and tomorrow’s economy no matter if there is a recession or not.

    I know from experience. I was laid off twice in the last 3 years and had a new job without any unemployment time and no need to collect unemployment. Too many of my coworkers took unemployment for 6 months and treated it like a vacation. They ended up taking closer to one year to find another job and it cost them a lot of money in taxes as well. The government only withholds 10 percent for taxes and the money in this list is the max not what everyone gets.

    If you think you may be fired instead of laid off, it is wise to save up some serious cash right away because unemployment benefits can be denied by the employer who fires you. The first time I was laid off we knew 9 months ahead of time so I went and got a 2nd job to save up some emergency money that I eventually used to get out of debt.

    Also, if you do go the route of unemployment take advantage of any training/job placement that the unemployment agency provides. It can be a real life saver and cut down on the stress of being unemployed.

  18. Archavious says:

    So in Boston Mass people get paid 15k not to work?

    I work and goto school fulltime and make about $400 a week(after taxes), seeing people make more money than me for being lazy isnt a good sign for this country.

  19. usa_gatekeeper says:

    Oh – one more goody attached to unemployment benefits in Boston and Massachusetts:

    They may also provide health insurance assistance through the “Medical Security Program (MSP)” for residents on unemployment. (Remember, Mass recently passed a law REQUIRING virtually everyone to have health insurance, one way or the other). Briefly,

    If you can continue participation in your former employer’s health plan, or continue a health insurance plan you’ve previously purchased yourself, you may receive monthly subsidies towards your premium payments. Mass may currently pay for 80% ( !!! ) of the actual premium paid, UP TO a maximum of $790/month for a family plan and $360/month for an individual plan.

    And, if you can’t afford to pay for your share of the premium mentioned in the above paragraph, you may qualify for a waiver. If your total gross family income is at or under 200% of the current Federal Poverty Income Guidelines you would be eligible for a direct coverage hardship waiver.

    Even if you don’t have the option of continuing a health plan as above, you may be eligible to receive a comprehensive benefits package including doctor visits, hospital care, and treatment for mental health and substance abuse.

  20. MercuryPDX says:

    I collected unemployment in WA state for a few months and I have to say it was one of the worst experiences. It’s designed to be as painful as possible.

    First, I had to suffer through a three-hour orientation which consisted of “This is a computer. This is the internet. This is how you get an email address. This is how you find a job on the internet.” All well and good for a “Average Joe” who never graduated high school or touched a computer before, but as an Internet Professional with a degree it was a complete waste of time and an insult.

    The best part was walking around and trying to help other people wade through Craigslist and Monster only to be told by the person running the “class” that I shouldn’t help people and worry more about my own search. She meant the one I completed during the “What is Yahoo and Hotmail and how can they help me?” part of the lecture. When I told her “I don’t mind helping, I build sites like this.”, she replied “That doesn’t qualify you to help anyone so please sit down and do your own search.”

    Add to that 95% of the people tasked with “helping me” not knowing what a Web Developer IS or DOES and coming up empty with jobs in their system. This is because either an advertising or marketing agency doesn’t list tech-related jobs with Unemployment, or the agent has no idea what categories to look under. They’d question each and every job I applied for as being “possibly unrelated to my skillset”. Bonus points to a certain Miss Clueless who felt that “Interactive Project Manager” was more suited for someone who was a “Construction Site Foreman” than a Web Developer with Project Management skills and an agency background.

    Unemployment does not understand or know how to help people who are considered professionals, and this is doubly true for those of you with careers in Technology. “You say you’re an auto mechanic who specializes in transmission repair? Great! Here’s 10 jobs for you!” “You’re a DB Admin who’s MCDBA certified? Umm… is that a marketing position or more of a Data-entry type of job? We have some computer operator jobs at HP, is that what you’d want?”

    If your job pays more than $25/hr, you are better off (and should be) looking on your own. Nod and smile through the compulsory “Assisted job Search” after orientation then go do it yourself. Don’t explain or attempt to educate them on what you do, they will get cranky. They don’t want to learn, they just want you out of there so they can move on to the next person with a job they can easily come up with leads for. They do not want some “know-it all computer genius” feeding them keywords the system does not have a response for.

    The next indignation was always being treated like some criminal who was not really looking for a job and sat at home watching TV and eating bon-bons on the couch…. because you know $485 a week with a mortgage to pay is LIVING I tell you. Once you’re stuck eating Rice-a-roni or ramen for three weeks because having a place to live is more important, you never want the free money to end! Any attempts I made to be as small a burden on the system as possible through side-jobs and contract work were not seen as “He’s trying to make his way the best he can.” but as “You’re obviously trying to get over on us.”

    Never mind that I’d actually report any extra income (no matter how insignificant) ensuring I’d get that taken out of my benefits if it was less than $485… or if I made more than that and would get no benefits at all. Unemployment did not care that the $600 I earned and reported for one week would not be paid for 30 days because that’s how that particular company paid invoices. As far as they were concerned it was money in my hands so they didn’t have to give me benefits that week.

    Another favorite line was “Don’t take the next job that comes along, hold out for the job you want.” So if I’m barely living on the $485 a week they’re giving me, don’t take a series of part time jobs that will earn me $600 and get me off the system. Hold out for the $40-65K/yr job I had and suffer through while you continue to reinforce how I’m a lazy drain on society because I don’t have a job yet?

    The most shocking moment was discovering that they were going to call every place I applied to during one week and verify that I submitted a resume or went on an interview. A recruiter I was working with received a call from an Unemployment agent that he described as the most awkward and ham-fisted phone conversation ever that seemed designed to embarrass and raise red flags on a potential job candidate. I really don’t wonder why I never got any calls or emails back from any job I applied for that week. When I complained to Unemployment about the calls an agent said “Why would we do that? We want you to be hired.” I replied “Well it went far beyond ‘Did he submit a resume?’ and your agent asked how I was dressed for the interview, was my resume well assembled and presentable, and if I was a good candidate for the position. You don’t feel that reflects poorly on someone to have Unemployment call and check up on them?”. The agent didn’t see what the problem was with any of the questions asked or how they could potentially jeopardize someone’s chances at any company other than McDonalds.

    To close, I submit all this not to evoke pity from other readers but to give you an idea of what a degrading and humiliating system of ignorance collecting Unemployment is. Forget that you may have held a steady job and been paying into the system for 20 years. You’ll get exactly what they give you, when they give it to you, and you will be made to jump through every hoop like a trained animal in order to get it.

    My “six-month emergency savings plan” was four-months short, and would have helped a lot more during the 7 month ordeal. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

  21. MercuryPDX says:

    @etc: I hope you never have to go through it, and know how fortunate you are that your pride can cover your bills.

    It’s money YOU’RE paying out of your check into the system so it will be there when you need it. It’s not welfare, it’s YOUR MONEY given back to you at a time when you need it. Try not to be so ignorant.

  22. MercuryPDX says:

    Gah… you’re = your.

  23. Caslonbold says:

    In Seattle part of qualifying for your weekly unemployment check involves making 3 contacts a week towards looking for a job. You keep a logbook and they call you in to review your logbook and follow up on the contacts you made. YOu also have to call in with the contacts each week and then they issue your check. You also have to go to a number of workshops about job searching. They take roll and if you don’t make it you lose your benefits. I have a friend who went thru the process.

    Unemployment payments are not a free ride, the employer pays into the program on your behalf. The $515 in Seattle would not cover most people’s rent, let alone a mortgage since house prices here start at $700,000 and go up. Gas today was $4.47 a gallon. $515 would not see you thru a month.

  24. MercuryPDX says:

    @Caslonbold: And here I thought that the northern part of the state would be different than the southern part. Nope.

  25. Caslonbold says:

    @MercuryPDX: NO Seattle is the same as the rest of WA state. I should mention that you are right about everything in your post. They call potential employers which is totally embarrassing, they make you feel like a criminal, they make you jump thru hoops like a trained animal to get YOUR MONEY and the weekly phone call of contacts to their 800# is humiliating.

    In WA state your employer pays towards benefits and YOU also pay towards benefits. It is YOUR money that you are collecting. Instead of helping you retain your dignity they make you feel worthless, stupid and like you are running a scam. All this while you are worried about making your bills, having enough for food and trying not to be depressed about being laid off.

  26. etc says:


    I am tickled by your assertion that I am ignorant, yet you don’t even know how the unemployment system works. It isn’t income tax that funds unemployment accounts, it is unemployment that is paid by the employer to the state, and charge backs are debited from that account. For most states, the amount of money transferred is based empirically on prior unemployment claims. This is considered a cost of doing business, and is passed along as a cost onto the products you purchase, services rendered etc just like anything else. It is wealth redistribution at it’s finest. You confuse unemployment and social security.

    By your fervent defense of unemployment, one could safely assume you are probably one of the most flagrant abusers. You have quite a hazy notion of what constitutes necessity and hardship, and may blur those concepts within your own understanding.

    As stated prior, I have very much been in situations where I couldn’t make ends meet, but the situation didn’t dictate my abilities or potential…I did.

    I suggest reading up a little before you dole out insults lest you claim someone ignorant and only show your own.

    At $539 a week, that is equal to almost $13.50 an hour. This is twice as much as many people make. If you add on other social programs including CCMS, food stamps etc, it equates to approximately 45k+ annual salary. There have been many studies done into this.

    Also, to those that assert that the unemployment program burdens the claimant with certain restrictions like mandatory applications etc…yes they do, and not only are they easy to subvert, you can easily fulfill your obligations within a couple of hours in a day. I have had countless people come in and place an application for a position they knew they had no chance of getting, and then getting the HR agent to sign off on their unemployment pages…thus fulfilling their obligations. I do find it humorous that anyone would consider asking the claimant to prove they were looking for a job to be an imposition above and beyond that of reason.

    Yes, I would rather starve than accept unemployment. I have dignity, I have pride. I’ve lived in countries that make our “poverty” level look like the Garden of Eden. $13.50 an hour. Think about it. Think long and hard about it.

  27. etc says:


    Would you like some cheese with that whine? What do you propose? Maybe we should place the money onto a silver serving tray, and provide you complimentary hors d’oeuvres and champagne…we wouldn’t want you to get parched after all!

    By your mannerisms and disposition I can see why you have the sentiment you do. You have a “me me me” perspective. It is after all YOUR money, ’tis not? I mimicked your capitalization for emphasis.

    The constraints and restrictions are in place for a purpose. Unemployment isn’t supposed to be comfortable. I don’t understand where you get that expectation. They’re job isn’t to make you comfortable…and any dignity that you had you threw away by applying for the benefits anyways.

    Even the poorest of the poor have the ability to have some kind of safety net. Hardships do exist, everyone goes through them, but it how you prepared for them and how you handle them that differentiates you from the next.

    The fact is, the longer you have been on the job, the less excuse you have for not having a safety net. If you haven’t been with a job for very long, your benefits would be minimal anyways.

    So I implore you to provide your own plan of action for unemployment benefits to be appropriated. Do you really think the requirements outlandish? Perhaps we should just open the floodgates and hand checks out to anyone who requests it?

    I look forward to hearing your plan.

  28. MercuryPDX says:

    @etc: it is unemployment that is paid by the employer to the state

    Yes, and in Washington it is also money that comes out of YOUR paycheck. So it’s money that I paid into the system for five years, and it’s wrong for me to get a portion of that back because I qualify for it and need it?

    By your fervent defense of unemployment, one could safely assume you are probably one of the most flagrant abusers.

    I defended unemployment? I just explained how it was the worst seven months I’ve had to go through and that’s somehow a defense? Oh yeah… I collect seven months of benefits I PAID FOR during 5 years of steady employment with one company and I’m an abuser of the system.

    Seven months of unemployment out of a twenty year career of steady work… how grossly abusive of the unemployment system I am. There should be a list posted somewhere with my name on it.

    You’re right. I should be ashamed that my company was a little too aggressive in the current economy and lost the money to sustain the jobs of myself and 11 other co-workers ALSO laid off on that day. It was clearly OUR FAULT. We should be so horribly ashamed that our jobs were yanked out from underneath us with a piddly one week severance. How very wrong of us to try and live on just that.

    I do find it humorous that anyone would consider asking the claimant to prove they were looking for a job to be an imposition above and beyond that of reason.

    I have no problems with them calling and asking “Did he apply for this job?”, but WA state goes above and beyond that asking for additional information that would turn off a prospective employer. They have the same resume I send out, I show up at their offices in the same suit I wear to interviews, they put me through mock interviews enough to know that I’m not going to pick my nose and go “DUH” when asked a question, so why the extra scrutiny? For a job at a garage or at a fast food joint who cares? For job at a company pulling in $23 million a year looking for a responsible developer? Even the recruiter I worked with said phone calls like the ones they made HURT your chances of getting a job.

    If you’re given a choice of two equally qualified candidates, would you hire the one that unemployment calls you weekly to ask about or the one that doesn’t?

    So maybe ignorant was the wrong choice of words on my part. Can I suggest that you not paint your comments with such a broad brush? I know there are people that abuse the system but I’m not one of them. I’m sure there are many others like me who have found themselves out of a job through no fault of their own and are having a hard time finding their next job. We don’t see it as some “free money windfall” to get paid less than half of what we used to make in a week.

    As I said it’s fortunate that you have the structure in place to not have to worry about unemployment if things go bad for you. Try not to be so harsh on those of us who don’t have such a luxury and need help for a few months. We’re not criminals for taking what we (and our employers) paid into the system for just such an event as this.

  29. am84 says:

    Whoo, Pittsburgh! Since there are no jobs to be found, we’ll compensate by paying people to do nothing!

  30. Mr_Human says:

    @etc: I would be happy to accept unemployment should I need it. Humbled by it, yes, but with nary a sense of lost dignity. We live in a society. With people. Sometimes people need help. And so we help them. I would be happy that the favor was returned to me when I needed it, too.

  31. Teapotfox says:

    @etc: That’s a pretty ruthless attitude. I sincerely hope you are never in the kind of circumstances that would force a reevaluation of your stance… not because I don’t think you should reevaluate it, but because there are certain situations I wouldn’t wish on anyone, no matter how seemingly cold and callous.

    Say, for example, you had a freak accident that led to injury and surgery, followed by physical therapy and/or rehabilitation, and your job

    1. required that you be ambulatory, and
    2. did not qualify you for any sort of short-term disability.

    I know someone who was in that exact circumstance through no fault of his own, and he survived via unemployment, for which he qualified because his employer could not provide any duties for him that did not require him to be on his feet during his recovery period.

    What would your advice to him have been? Lie down in the gutter and die, since he was temporarily incapacitated? Is that truly what you would do, if no other option were available?

    Not everyone fits beneath the umbrella of your rather mercenary (and I would like to think, hyperbolic) generalization.

  32. MercuryPDX says:

    @etc: The requirements are not outlandish, but for some of us the system here in WA does not work as well as it’s supposed to. It’s set-up to give lower wage earners a fighting chance at getting a job. There’s no way to “qualify out” of a three hour class on how the internet works, or a three hour class on how to write a resume, or a three hour class on how to dress and conduct an interview. I have those skills, and had to attend the classes anyway, which I understand is part of the deal. Couldn’t there be something BETTER the state could provide in the form of mandated classes that works in my situation?

    I was also not qualified for job training/retraining because I have an education, earned too much money, and my field (IT Services) was not experiencing enough of a shrink to where training for a career in (picking at random) Nursing would be a good choice. Would it be so difficult for the state to apply that same criteria to their “Getting a job 101” classes and offer me classes that are more applicable, instead of making me attend classes I can teach better than the instructor?

    Perhaps we should just open the floodgates and hand checks out to anyone who requests it?

    The system in WA (and I’m sure most other states) is set up so that you need to have held a job for a year, paid into the system, and be laid off (not fired) to collect benefits. You can’t just walk in off the street and collect a check. You’re also limited to at MOST 6-9 months of benefits (depending on how much and how often you collect), and at the end of that term you don’t get anymore money.

    Looks pretty airtight to me. You either find your next job within 9 months or you don’t get benefits anymore. What more do you feel needs to be in place to prevent abuse?

  33. MercuryPDX says:

    @MercuryPDX: Looks pretty airtight to me. You either find your next job within 9 months or you don’t get benefits anymore. What more do you feel needs to be in place to prevent abuse?

    Add to that, what more motivation would someone NEED to get a job within 9 months?

  34. Teapotfox says:

    @Mr_Human: I also agree with this, wholeheartedly. I am saddened by people who so fiercely repudiate anyone in need, because I find myself wondering how it must feel to think one must never, ever reach out to another human being for help. It’s okay to admit that one cannot control every circumstance in life, every variable… people do not have to be so terrified, ashamed, guilt-stricken, etc…

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    @etc: You’re ignorant of the program. It’s unemployment insurance. While employed, you pay (an extremely nominal) amount. When your company lays you off so that your CEO can clear an extra $60m that year, you collect off the insurance you’ve been paying.
    Collecting unemployment benefits has the same ethical impact as going to a dentist using your dental plan.

    But, umm, thanks for playing?

  36. MercuryPDX says:

    @Trai_Dep: Collecting unemployment benefits has the same ethical impact as going to a dentist using your dental plan.

    Or collecting Social Security. You’re scum for asking for the money you paid into the system over your entire working life and should be ashamed you don’t have a well-funded 401k and stock portfolio to use instead. Didn’t you plan for your golden years? ;)

  37. Venarain says:

    This would be one of those times where if the new comment code hadn’t just been enacted I would say something unhelpful like “Fuck you ect. I hope you don’t vote.”. However, since the new comment code has been enacted, I will instead say: unemployment just saved me and my fiances life. I lost my waitressing job because the restaurant reorganized, the job market in Portland is terrible, so even with a BA and an excellent work history, I spent 4 months applying for every job that I was at all qualified for and that $636 (159 a week) a month was the only thing standing between the street and me. so. fuck you ect. walk a day in blahblahblah.

  38. etc says:


    Oh, Trai Dep, the man who makes stuff up about countries he has never visited, and made broad assumptions about my military duty based on my “profile”. I figured a blowhard of your pomposity couldn’t stay quiet for long.

    You argue semantics. Just because you tack on the word “insurance” doesn’t inoculate the claimant or the program itself. The fact of the matter is, it is wealth redistribution. If you want to spin it by calling it insurance, that substantiates your own ignorance, but it is still well within your rights.

    Whenever the charge backs on the account exceed that paid in (again, cost of doing business), you just pay more. It isn’t a private enterprise hedged on risk with value return, hence it isn’t insurance. That money comes out of pockets of other hard working individuals. This isn’t like social security in the slightest. It isn’t a savings account that you tap into when unemployed. It is pure wealth redistribution, and any claims otherwise are intellectually dishonest.

    You crack me up Trai. Keep up the good work! Tell me more about Taiwan again please!!! You know so much about it!

  39. MercuryPDX says:

    @Venarain: At four months I think you’re half the leech on the system that I am. ;)

    At least things are finally starting to pick back up out here. An Oregon buddy of mine (who was laid off close to the same time) and I compared notes and discovered the Oregon UI system is not without it’s flaws too, but was generally less stressful than Washington UI is. He didn’t go through half the scrutiny I had to, and attributed the extra stress to the slightly higher benefits WA UI provides. Thankfully got hired into a job after collecting for only 4 months.

  40. etc says:


    What is the percentage that you paid into the account? Was it a egalitarian redistribution? If that was truly the case, why couldn’t you just stuff the money in your mattress? The fact of the matter is, the burden of your unemployment wasn’t shared solely by your own contribution, but by other employees, and also the company itself. Stop kidding yourself. You act as if the government was just a caretaker for the funds that you invested in your own unemployment. That is hogwash.

    For me, yes, I would be turned off by someone on unemployment. I have been in many situations where money has been tight, and I was in a bit of a quandary over how I was going to get through the bills.

    My mom was born China, extremely poor, barely had anything. My dad was born in 1935, a poor farm boy that didn’t have anything to his name, and didn’t graduate high school. Both have done extremely well for themselves, and it certainly wasn’t on the coat tails of other people. They went through TRUE poverty, where they didn’t know whether they would have food on the table, and I was brought up that under no circumstances is there any excuse to rely on anyone but yourself. Even if you go hungry, at least you have your dignity.

    If that concept is lost to you, or seems asinine, then we have to agree to disagree. But I would like to think that the concepts of honor and pride still hold some water in your person.

  41. etc says:


    Because I have seen people at their very worst manage to get through without social intervention, I fail to see many situations where it is an absolute necessity that someone pay for your livelihood. Perhaps that money that was paid in could have been saved by your own fiscal prudence instead of pilfered by the incompetence and inefficiency of government mandated wealth redistribution.

    I think a majority of my contempt stems from the spirit of the article. To rate cities by their unemployment benefits is bereft of decency. It is one thing to acknowledge the necessity of such a system, and see it as a safety net, but to champion it is just despicable. Period.

  42. etc says:


    One question: do you REALLY need 6-9 months to find a job? If it takes you that long, you have your head in your ass regarding your self-worth, or you aren’t trying. It is this kind of thing that ruins the whole premise of the program.

    The fact is, you are a skilled laborer. The system really isn’t setup for people like you. As a result of the wages that you made prior, you should have budgeted a safety net or savings, especially if you had been employed for over a year. The system isn’t made for individuals that make $100,000 a year, because they don’t expect you to come in and apply for unemployment.

    What would you like? Maybe instead of remedial classes, they should have a weekend MBA program for you to attend for free? Better yet, maybe flying lessons? Maybe a few courses to brush you up on your understanding of maritime law?

  43. etc says:


    I don’t repudiate those in need. I repudiate those that degrade themselves by not recognizing that they possess self-determination.

    If you need food, there are plenty of sources. If you need education, there are plenty of sources.

    I 100% champion programs that provide free education to those in lower income brackets, even free child support. I think that as long as people are determined to succeed, helping them along the way is very well justified. However, unemployment is not an effective way of doing this.

    I can’t tell you how many times someone has come in for an interview, and has stated “my unemployment benefits are about to run up, so I really need to get a job”. People are unabashed about this. It is a disgrace.

    No, you are painting my stance completely inaccurately, and using straw man argumentation techniques. I don’t repudiate those in need, but I do repudiate leeches that had every ability to create a savings or safety net, and chose not to.

    If an individual, as the poster above proffered, made $25 an hour, why on Earth would they be in a situation where they needed unemployment? Especially if they had worked at their job for over a year. Please explain that to me?

    If unemployment is TRULY for those in need, then you should be just as angry as I am at those that don’t truly need it, or SHOULDN’T.

  44. etc says:


    You had a BA and were waitressing? Really? That seems like there are larger issues afoot than you merely getting laid off.

    You can curse me all you want…and vicariously break the comment code all you want, but the fact of the matter is: as a well educated individual, not planning for adverse situations like this places blame squarely on your own shoulders.

    And with all due respect, if you spent 4 months applying for “every job” that you supposedly qualified for, you are either vastly overestimating yourself, have trouble interviewing, or weren’t as endeavoring as you purport to be.

    We all go through rough times, and I am glad you got back on your feet…and if you look at the silver lining, maybe this time you will plan for adverse situations: something you obviously didn’t plan for prior.

    The ironic part is, the individuals that are the most responsible, and need unemployment the most, are typically the ones that don’t use it…which is the truth for many social programs.

  45. LizS says:

    Wow. My husband and I were living in the Orlando, Florida area and unemployed for part of 2001. The max unemployment benefit in 2001 – $275/wk. I just checked the website and sure enough, this article is correct that it’s still $275/wk.

    The COL has increased dramatically down there and they still haven’t increased the unemployment compensation? Insane.

  46. Caslonbold says:

    @etc: In my first post I said a friend of mine had to go thru the unemployment process, not me. Reading comprehension 101 would serve you well.

    I watched a 60 year old who had been employed for over 15 years at the same job get laid off with one week notice. This is a woman who raised 2 children with no support from a deadbeat husband, never took a handout and always made her own way. She didn’t want to apply for unemployment but she had no choice and I pushed her to do it so she wouldn’t lose her house.

    @etc:The constraints and restrictions are in place for a purpose. Unemployment isn’t supposed to be comfortable. I don’t understand where you get that expectation. They’re job isn’t to make you comfortable…and any dignity that you had you threw away by applying for the benefits anyways.

    So you are telling me that after paying into the system for 15 years she was supposed to lose her dignity and self respect and be made to feel like a loser and scammer because she applied for help from the unemployment insurance system? Why? Isn’t the system in place as a stop gap to give people time to regroup and come up with another plan to earn an income? Why put in place a system that adds another level of humiliation and abuse beyond that which comes with being without a job?

    @etc:Even the poorest of the poor have the ability to have some kind of safety net. Hardships do exist, everyone goes through them, but it how you prepared for them and how you handle them that differentiates you from the next

    What planet do you live on?? Do you know how poor even the middle class is in this country right now? SAFETY NET?? What kind of safety net do you think people can pull out of the air? People are living paycheck to paycheck. When you live right on the edge with your basic living expenses how do think people are supposed to prepare for the hard times. I’d like to hear your plan for how people are supposed to survive after losing their job and according to you should not apply for unemployment benefits.

    @etc:Yes, I would rather starve than accept unemployment. I have dignity, I have pride.

    I hope you also have a car for that is where you, your pride and your dignity will be sleeping. Make sure it is a BIG car so there is enough room for the 3 of you.

    @etc:By your mannerisms and disposition I can see why you have the sentiment you do. You have a “me me me” perspective.

    You should think twice and then a third time about making assumptions about my mannerisms and disposition. Mannerisms are something that can only be observed in person and I don’t recall ever meeting you. You have no idea who I am or how I conduct myself in this world. Me me me attitude? Thanks for the laugh. I’ll have to pass this uninformed observation on to the village where I started a business in a third world country so the village could be self supporting and everyone could provide for their families. They will be interested to hear about my me me me attitude. I’m still laughing and I am sure they will too…

    By the way, you might want to cut back on the snark. Dealing with snarky people who come off like know it all 20 somethings is just no fun for us people who have been around the block a few times. Humility and a quiet humbleness shows so much more class.

  47. MercuryPDX says:

    @etc: What is the percentage that you paid into the account?

    3.85% per paycheck for five years = roughly $15,000

    Was it a egalitarian redistribution?

    I would say so. 3.85% every two weeks for 5 years was more put IN than what I got out. I’m thankful that I got any help, and never went into it expecting or demanding I got back every cent I put in.

    The maximum benefit I was allowed was $13,390.00. Meaning I had 26 weeks of full benefits, more if I did supplemental work and did not collect each and every week.

    If that was truly the case, why couldn’t you just stuff the money in your mattress?

    Because they (employer’s) don’t really give you a choice when it comes to taking taxes and other “pesky government fees” out of your check… they just do. This is why your gross pay is $3000, but you only net $2000.

    For me, yes, I would be turned off by someone on unemployment.

    So you wouldn’t hire someone, effectively getting them OUT of the system? You’d rather discriminate against hiring them based on them being in it? So you fault me for claiming the WA UI is (IMHO) too invasive with their questions, and then say that you wouldn’t hire someone because of that? You better hope your state labor board doesn’t find that out.

    They went through TRUE poverty, where they didn’t know whether they would have food on the table, and I was brought up that under no circumstances is there any excuse to rely on anyone but yourself.

    That’s all well and good, but how does that relate to Unemployment insurance? Are you confusing it with Welfare?

    I would like to think that the concepts of honor and pride still hold some water in your person.

    I have pride and honor in what I do. Getting blindsided by a company does not change or diminish that. Collecting Unemployment for seven months is nothing to be ashamed of, because again…. it’s money I paid, 3.85% per paycheck, (roughly $15000 in total) over five years. It’s not the point that I paid more into it than I got out of it, rather that it was there when I needed it, it helped me, and now it’s all good. There’s no shame in that.

  48. MercuryPDX says:

    @etc: One question: do you REALLY need 6-9 months to find a job? If it takes you that long, you have your head in your ass regarding your self-worth, or you aren’t trying. It is this kind of thing that ruins the whole premise of the program.

    Have you looked around? I’ll spare you the Portland, OR Economy report. Things may be better now but just 6-8 months ago it was hard to find a job in most fields.

    The fact is, you are a skilled laborer. The system really isn’t setup for people like you. The system isn’t made for individuals that make $100,000 a year, because they don’t expect you to come in and apply for unemployment.

    Thanks for doubling my salary, but anyone who pays into the system is qualified for help when they’re put out of work. It’s wrong to suggest there are certain jobs that should get unemployment and others that should not based on “You should know better!”

    What would you like?
    You sarcastic suggestions of Martime law and a weekend MBA program aside, how about some skillsets employers are asking for in my career field that I don’t have? Training in Flash programming? SQL Database management? Project management? Or if it has to be “Job searching 101” friendly how about “How to create an online portfolio”, “How to write a good code sample”, or “Networking and hiring tips for tech jobs”?

    You make it sound like unemployment is a “lifelong thing” like welfare, when here it only lasts until your benefits run out six months or so after you start collecting.

  49. MentallyRetired says:

    @etc: LOL @ Unemployment Insurance being wealth redistribution. When you pay enormous premiums to a health insurer whose executives take home 8+ figure salaries is that wealth equalization?

  50. Hamm Beerger says:

    @etc: Unemployment != welfare, it’s a program paid for by employers for employees, just like health or retirement benefits. Are you returning your employer’s 401k match because it’s beneath your dignity?

    Get over yourself.

  51. Venarain says:

    Thanks to everyone else who has been cool headed enough to eloquently explain the system to ect.
    Ect, as Mercury stated, you obviously have no idea what the job market in this country is like right now, or really anything about what it means to be less than wealthy. I can’t be nice enough, like many others, to say I don’t wish the first hand knowledge on you. Take your bootstraps and shove them.

  52. Venarain says:

    @@MercuryPDX: Sweet jesus yes. the really annoying thing is that for everything that I have interviewed for I’ve gotten the “you were really great and we’d love to hire you, but this person had more experience. you were our second choice!”. even for an internship! isn’t the whole point that you’re getting an internship to get experience?!
    I was pretty blow away at how difficult the whole process was for getting the unemployment, i was in school for a grad program at the time i applied and they basically said if i wasn’t willing to drop classes to work (this is 6 weeks into the term), they wouldn’t give me benefits. the only saving grace was that my classes fell outside of the hours i would have to be available for the work i was looking for. but seriously? how crazy is that? in order to get unemployment you have be willing to abandon your efforts towards self improvement?!
    it makes me so uselessly mad when people talk about social services like they are some freebee-give away party. most of the time they are degrading, time consuming, restricting processes that in many ways constrain your ability to make personal improvements.

  53. Techguy1138 says:


    Your arguments fail. You have not in any way provided an alternative that will assist anyone on this site.

    You also fail to grasp the purpose of why unemployment insurance exists.

    Unemployment insurance exists to keep people in the workforce plain and simple. Bully for you that you are willing to be homeless at the drop of a hat.

    Unemployment is a problem for any govenment and homeless unemployed are dangerous in large numbers.

    Once people lose their homes or place to live it is far more difficult for them to reclaim a high paying job in society. You know high paying jobs where people pay taxes.

    The government does NOT want you to work for 5.15 at walmart if you were pulling down 60k the year before. YOU will become the drain on society by snubbing social benefits you paid into.

    Unemployment insurance benefits the government and your local community. At least some people are smart enough to see the benefit.

    Trying to convince people to stop taking that benefit is pathetic and counter productive. Especially since it has such positive results.

  54. Teapotfox says:

    @etc: Where did I misrepresent your opinions? These are your own words:

    “What happened to dignity and pride? I would starve before going on unemployment.”
    “If you are on unemployment, you should be ashamed of yourself.”
    “The reason I take care of my dog is because it doesn’t possess the ability to sustain himself. Are you a dog?”

    I referred to the above attitude as ruthless, cold, callous, mercenary and (hopefully) hyperbolic. From where I stand, that still doesn’t seem like a misrepresentation. My other post was not in reply to you–methinks etc doth protest too much. It was a general statement about people who cannot set aside their pride to ask a fellow human for help when needed (although I suppose if the shoe fits…).

    I still wonder what you would do in my friend’s situation, or what you would have advised him to do. He’s a waiter and an actor (I know, surprising combination), not someone whose income really allows for a “safety net.” So in harsh economic times, do we turn our backs on our fellow man and let him fall? What is so repugnant to you about unemployment compensation that does not offend you about taxpayer-funded social programs like the “free” food, education and child support (child care?) you champion?

  55. KarmaChameleon says:

    @Archavious: Three words: cost of living. $15k in Boston is hardly living like a Rockerfeller. As has been stated many times before, unemployment insurance is not a way for “lazy” people to live on the dole. It’s a way for people to keep their heads above water until they can find another job.

    I sincerely hope etc and the other Bootstrap Bill Social Darwinists never get laid off and have to pay rent, gas and grocery bills with “dignity”.

  56. Coelacanth says:

    @etc: You’re paying unemployment insurance out of your paycheck and withheld taxes the entire time you’re employed. It’s your money, should you be unfortunate enough to require it.

  57. pdxguy says:

    @MercuryPDX: As a fellow survivor of WA State UI System, I have to say that your description of the experience is completely and totally accurate. As a software developer with over 20 years of experience, they had no clue on how to help me. I just resigned myself early on to play their stupid game, collect my check (again from money that I paid and my employer paid), and search as best as I could on my own. My time dealing with them was back in late 2003 into early 2004. It’s probably changed very little since then.

  58. ReverendDrGladhands says:

    I’ve found the most bootstrappers have a pretty nice support system, be it familial or ethnic, and can’t understand the plight of people without one.

    Unemployment insurance is a social necessity. It helps preserve the strength of our economy. Capitalism is one of the most misunderstood concepts in America. The free market doesn’t mean that everyone who can not thrive must suffer.

  59. newfenoix says:

    @MercuryPDX: That sounds a lot like the BS that they make you go through in Arkansas. $325 a week MAX. And you have to go through the “job training” crap. I have collected unemployment once and it was a nightmare. I was sent through before anyone else because I get “veterans preference.” Big f…ing deal. I would have rather been in combat. They just couldn’t deal with someone that had been in school for over six years. MPA degree, advanced law enforcement certifications, etc., etc. The system isn’t set up to help people like that.

  60. newfenoix says:

    You need to live in a world of reality. I have had people with all kinds of advanced degrees apply for ENTRY level positions with my company because their companies went belly up. Look at how many unemployed MBA’s and MPA’s there are today. Thousands! Many are going to community colleges to get tech training to get a better paying job.

    You mention dignity and pride. I don’t think you know the meaning of either. I WORKED the entire time that I was in college. Not to have spending money, but to take care of my family. Fifty hours a week and I took a semester hour load of from 15 to 18.

    As for your statement that “even the poorest of the poor have some kind of safety net” I have to ask, “have you ever been poor?” Have you gone to bed hungry and without the slightest prospect of eating the next day? Have you lived in fear? Shut the hell up then. There is such a thing as Karma and she is a sadistic bitch and when you have nothing, I want you to remember the pathetic remarks that you made here today.

  61. Unemployment is a temporary insurance to help you cover some perks while you get back into the workforce. I’m not ashamed of taking unemployment, if I get fired, I already have plenty of crap to worry about. That way you spend all your time and resources on getting a similar or higher-paying job instead of having to be stuck on a survival job. In the end, the government benefits more if you’re in a nice job than a survival job (more taxes to them).

  62. Crrusherr says:

    the top 10 are more than i make, maybe i should go on unemploment

  63. iluvhatemail says:

    they call $2200/mo in LA one of the worst? Are you kidding me!? You can live very nice and easy on that much here. If you dont have a job, dont live in a downtown loft. When I first moved here i made $1600/mo after taxes and was still able to live well. Plus they neglected to mention how easy it is to get a job here in comparison to other smaller cities. All this LA hating is biased.

  64. SexierThanJesus says:

    Unemployment benefits saved my life. I was on it for a month and a half after getting blindsided during a downsizing. I felt no shame in accepting it, as that is what it’s there for. That’s why I paid into it. So I could eat and not have to borrow money from my parents to pay my rent. And if the rest of the money I paid into it is going to help someone else in my old situation, God bless it.

  65. SexierThanJesus says:

    @iluvhatemail: For all the talk of how hard it is to get by in LA, I’m shocked at how many available jobs there are in “the business”.

  66. SexierThanJesus says:

    @etc: Compassionate conservatism.

  67. Trai_Dep says:

    @etc: Question. Did you bother to read the Consumerist Commentator’s Code of Conduct, or is your reading comprehension so subpar that you couldn’t comprehend it?
    If the former, check it out: it’ll make the site better. If the latter, give us a shout-out and we’ll be happy to explain it using shorter words.

  68. Erwos says:

    I think what etc needs to argue for is _privatizing_ unemployment insurance. That is to say, instead of the government running the program, private companies would, kinda like health insurance.

  69. samurailynn says:

    @etc: Surely you realize that everyone is required to pay into UI. People are also required to pay into Social Security. I may well be better off stuffing money into my mattress when it comes to getting laid off or retiring, but if I’m paying into the system anyway, don’t I deserve to receive my benefit when my time comes? I haven’t ever actually received unemployment benefits, but I don’t think badly of anyone who does.

  70. Caslonbold says:

    @Trai_Dep: I don’t think we need to worry about user etc reading comprehension skills as his ability to comment is currently disabled. I guess Roz our new moderator didn’t much appreciate him making personal attacks against a bunch of us last nite.

  71. teqjack says:

    Too far down to ever be read, but still –

    “1. Pittsburgh, Pa.-$539 per week” Fine, but watch the calendar. A few years back I applied for unemployment insurance in Lancaster PA and was told that claims are only processed once a quarter, so I’d have to wait over two months before getting a check because the period had ended just over two weeks earlier.

  72. RandomHookup says:

    @samurailynn: Not all states make you pay into unemployment. I don’t ever recall doing it after living in 4 different states. I know in Mass. the employers pay all of it. I didn’t even realize that some states make the employee pay as well.

  73. ShanghaiLil says:


    May we assume that you also don’t file claims on employer-sponsered health insurance (health insurance also being a form of wealth redistribution, in which relatively healthy people with low health-care costs subsidize the much higher costs of treating a small number of seriously ill patients)?

  74. ShanghaiLil says:

    @newfenoix: There is such a thing as Karma and she is a sadistic bitch.

    Not only is she sadistic, but from what I’ve seen, she also tends to have a keen sense of irony. We’ll probably never hear from etc. again, but damn, I’d like to see how that one turns out.

  75. newfenoix says:

    @ShanghaiLil: He probably thinks that paying a decent wage is “wealth redistribution” and that debtors’ prisons should be brought back.

  76. LogicalOne says:

    @MercuryPDX: Your use of “your” and “you’re” were correct the first time. “Your” is possessive and “you’re” is the contraction of “you are.”

  77. DoctorVenkman says:

    Jebus. Trolls run amok on Consumerist today. I’m sorry I peeked in on this thread. Yikes.

  78. MercuryPDX says:

    @LogicalOne: I know…. I was understandably agitated. ;)