10 States That Cheat the Most on Jobless Benefits
Policy + Politics

10 States That Cheat the Most on Jobless Benefits


Senate Republicans on Tuesday afternoon rejected a Democratic proposal to move forward with a bill renewing an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. It was undoubtedly bad news for out-of-work Americans who rely on those benefits to meet basic living expenses. But there’s another class of people who will surely be upset as well - the fraudsters who bleed the program of more than $1 billion every year.

U.S. taxpayers lost $1.17 billion to unemployment insurance fraud between July 2012 and June 2013, according to data gathered by the Department of Labor. Half of those losses came from just 10 states, which paid out $586 million in fraudulent claims. Unemployment insurance payouts for the 12-month period totaled $40.7 billion. Fraudulent payouts as a portion of that were 2.88 percent.

Related: Dismal Jobs Numbers Fuel Unemployment Insurance Debate

Of the 10 states with the largest fraud rates, only California has a congressional delegation that is mostly Democratic. Nevada’s delegation is evenly split along party lines, and the remaining eight are dominated by Republicans by a factor of nearly 3-to-1.

Louisiana tops the list when it comes to the rate of fraudulent filing, with 7.01 percent of its payouts attributable to falsified or otherwise fraudulent claims. For sheer volume of fraudulent payments, California, the most populous state, tops the list at $311 million.

Geographically, five of the top 10 states are located in the west, three in the South, and one each in the Midwest and Northeast.

Here are this year’s entrants to the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame:

Top 10 States With Fraudulent Insurance Payments
Rank State Fraud Rate Fraudulent Payments (m)
1 Louisiana 7.01% $14.4
2 South Dakota 6.37% $2.1
3 Mississippi 6.33% $10.9
4 Arizona 5.86% $21.6
5 Nevada 5.80% $26.4
6 Arkansas 5.72% $19.2
7 South Carolina 5.68% $14.8
8 Pennsylvania 5.63% $157.9
9 California 4.83% $311.0
10 Idaho 4.44% $7.1
Source: Department of Labor

Follow Rob Garver on Twitter: @rrgarver

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