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What States Have the Highest Unemployment Rates?

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It’s not easy being unemployed or under-employed, but you are definitely not alone. Even with a highly positive new jobs report just out and the country apparently on an upswing, an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent means a lot of people still need jobs.

But that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless for anyone. If you’re spent on looking for available jobs in your current locale because it seems like the well has dried, you could be right. Some states have higher unemployment rates than others, and you could be stuck living somewhere that’s not helping you. It might be time to relocate.

As of the last report on state unemployment rates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the five states we found with the highest unemployment rates in the U.S. If you call one of these places home, even though it’s a difficult thought, expanding your search outside your state could give you new hope.

Rhode Island

All apologies to Rhode Island, but it tops the list of states with the highest unemployment rates. A scary 9.9 percent of the state’s population is out of work. The state just seems to be struggling. In fiscal year 2011-12, it had a $21 million budget surplus, but is projecting a $127 million deficit for FY 2013-14. If you can, do your best not to let this state’s struggles become your own.

California and Nevada

Nevada was formerly the state with the highest unemployment rate, but it managed to squeak under Rhode Island with 9.8 percent at the end of 2012. California has the same rate, one that has remained unchanged for some time. It seems like both of these states would have plenty of jobs and money through tourism, but both wrestle with high taxes and budget deficits. Even if you think there may be opportunities in these states for you, their consistently high unemployment rates say otherwise.

New Jersey

New Jersey is next on the list with a rate of 9.5 percent. Their unemployment rate peaked in the summer of 2012 at 9.8 and has since gone down, but it crept up there from a low of 9 percent previously. This is still quite a bit higher than the national average, and it’s the highest of the states in their region. It’s a small state with a dense population; a high unemployment rate translates to a lot of people without work.

North Carolina

All of the states in the top five have unemployment rates over 9 percent. North Carolina, with a rate of 9.4, has the best chance of getting out of that group. Unfortunately, they’ve got a long way to go. The state’s unemployment insurance program owes the federal government billions of dollars. State government is trying to find ways to keep taxes low and repay their debts, but until they can stabilize, unemployed workers are better off finding a state that can spend more effort helping them get back on their feet rather than having to work so hard to get itself back on its feet.

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