The economy took a serious turn for the worse in August, when the unemployment rate reached a five-year high of 6.1 percent and nearly 9.4 million Americans were officially counted as unemployed and still actively looking for work. Just since the federal program of extended jobless benefits was enacted in June, nearly 900,000 more workers are struggling to find jobs in a rapidly declining economy. At the same time, twice as many states are experiencing especially high levels of unemployment, with nearly a dozen states now exceeding 6.5 percent unemployment.
Large number of states, especially in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri), the South (Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina), and the West (California, Nevada) now have unemployment rates that compare to the peak they reached during the extended 1990s recession (when the unemployment rate was 7.8%). Northeastern states, including Rhode Island and Connecticut, are also experiencing record rates of joblessness. Compared to when the situation when the extension of unemployment benefits passed in June, there are now triple the number of states with unemployment over 6% (averaged over three months) and six times as many states with unemployment rates over 6.5%.