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Most, Least Affordable Places to Live on Unemployment

Most, Least Affordable Places to Live on Unemployment
(Wutthichai Luemuang/Dreamstime)

By Tuesday, 15 September 2020 08:17 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality for many Americans is glum. The U.S. is officially in a recession, which could even lead to a depression.

Nearly 15 million people are unemployed, with new claims coming in every day. Some industries — such as the arts, hospitality, or travel sectors — are impacted with little hope of recovery in the short to mid-term.

Renters are significantly affected by the situation, as 60% report the loss of at least one household income due to the pandemic. Many of the measures included in the CARES Act instituted at the beginning of the pandemic came to an end in July 2020, despite the fact that the disease is still widespread and the economy has yet to recover. Some measures, such as the moratorium on evictions, have been extended through the end of 2020, and some states have added up to $300 in additional unemployment insurance to replace the $600 weekly stipend included in the original CARES Act.

The future, however, remains largely uncertain as the economy pains to recover from the recession. Many remain vulnerable and have come to rely on a sorely reduced unemployment insurance payments to cover their basic living expenses.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “unemployment insurance programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements.” There is one caveat, though: These benefits and eligibility criteria vary widely from state to state.

In most of the country, the federal unemployment subsidy is not enough to cover rent, food, and transportation expenses, according to a new Real Estate Witch survey. The average unemployment insurance benefits fail to cover basic living expenses in 69% of the 109 metropolitan areas studied.

With that in mind, relocating to find a place to live affordably on unemployment benefits may become a necessity for a growing number of Americans. You must take into account a wide range of variables, from the cost of living to the extent of the benefits themselves. For example, weekly unemployment insurance payments range from a minimum $5 in Alaska to a maximum $1,234 in Massachusetts. Just because a state has a low cost of living doesn't mean it's affordable to live on unemployment insurance.

Here are the most and least affordable places to live on unemployment insurance.

The most affordable places to live on unemployment insurance

Overall, Northeastern metro areas fare better than their Southern counterparts thanks to their higher average unemployment insurance payment ($1,738.32 per month in the Northeast vs. $870.81 in the South). Housing prices, however, are also higher in the Northeast compared to the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the Midwest benefits from both higher unemployment benefits — its inhabitants receive the second-highest average unemployment insurance payments at $1,311.18 per month — and the most affordable housing in the nation.

There are just 12 major metro areas in the U.S. where residents can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment along with other basic expenses while living on unemployment insurance:

  1. Springfield, MA
  2. Worcester, MA
  3. Spokane, WA
  4. Toledo, OH
  5. Dayton, OH
  6. Cleveland, OH
  7. Akron, OH
  8. Des Moines, IA
  9. Cincinnati, OH
  10. Columbus, OH
  11. Scranton, PA
  12. Pittsburgh, PA

The residents of these 12 metro areas spend an average of $1,541 on basic living expenses including food, transportation, and rent for a two-bedroom apartment. They also receive an average of $1,881 per in unemployment. Therefore, they have approximately $340 left over to cover their other living expenses such as healthcare.

The least affordable places to live on unemployment insurance

At the other end of the spectrum, residents of cities with a higher cost of living, especially in areas where unemployment insurance is lower, such as California and Florida, are not in a position to afford the rent for a studio apartment in addition to basic living expenses such as food and transportation.

Western cities rank particularly low due to the high housing costs ($964 on average for studio rentals) coupled with the relatively low unemployment insurance monthly payments ($1,249.65).

Among the metro areas studied, living on unemployment insurance is the least affordable in these following cities:

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. San Jose, CA
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Oakland, CA
  5. New York, NY
  6. Miami, FL
  7. Honolulu, HI
  8. San Diego, CA
  9. Fort Lauderdale, FL
  10. West Palm Beach, FL

The residents of these 10 cities cannot make ends meet when their sole source of income is unemployment insurance. On average, they spend more than $3,900 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, food, and transportation. However, they only receive about $1,084 in unemployment insurance, leaving them with $2,816 in accrued debt before they can take care of their other living expenses, such as health insurance.

How to make the most of unemployment insurance

For many, the future remains uncertain, and relying on unemployment insurance payments may become a long-term necessity.

Unemployment policies change frequently and vary from state to state. As a rule of thumb, it is best always to keep track of the various deadlines, requirements, and so on, to avoid any missed payment. Refer to your state’s unemployment insurance program frequently.

You may also be eligible for additional programs, either through your state or municipality, to help with your living expenses. For example, some cities have established an emergency rental assistance program for households impacted by COVID-19 and its economic fallouts.

With the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 infections, living in an apartment during the coronavirus outbreak can be challenging. Nevertheless, reducing your living expenses can be the best policy if you are unlikely to find a new job soon. For some people, it may involve selling their house fast by working with a discount broker such as Door to get rid of their mortgage and, potentially, set some money aside in savings.

There is no doubt that the pandemic and its economic repercussions will affect Americans for a long time. Many are re-assessing their lifestyle to include new obligations such as working from home, homeschooling, or switching careers to sectors COVID-19 is less likely to impact. It may also be the trigger for some to leave expensive cities such as San Francisco, New York, or Washington D.C. to move to more affordable and rural areas.

Although unemployment insurance provides an undeniable help, it is far from an end-all answer, especially if the current situation is to become the “new normal.”

Dr. Francesca Ortegren, Ph.D. is a Research Associate at Clever Real Estate where she focuses on helping people understand complex data, real estate, finances, business, and the economy by researching various topics, analyzing data, and reporting useful insights for general consumption.

© 2020 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.


   
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DrFrancescaOrtegrenPhD
Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality for many Americans is glum. The U.S. is officially in a recession, which could even lead to a depression.
most, least, affordable, places, live, unemployment, nsurance
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2020-17-15
Tuesday, 15 September 2020 08:17 AM
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