A Majority Of States Are Now Insolvent: Quantifying The Disastrous Unemployment Situation

Tyler Durden's picture

Update: the Friday, January 29 report was released and our expectations were low: total January Unemployment Insurance Outflows were $14.4 billion, essentially right on top of the December number.

Zero Hedge recently highlighted the ever increasing Federal outlays on unemployment insurance, leading to questions on whether the true unemployment rate, as indicated by actual cash outlays, may be materially higher than indicated in increasingly dubious governmental reports. One proposed alternative has been that the Federal government is directly subsidizing standalone states' depleted unemployment insurance trust funds. Using data provided by ProPublica we have been able to confirm that indeed standalone states are for the most part now bankrupt and have no reserves left in their coffers when it comes to funding ever increasing insurance benefits. As ProPublica indicates, there are now 26 states which have depleted their trust funds, among these are the usual suspects including California, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which now rely exclusively on borrowings from the Federal government to prevent the cessation of insurance payments to recently unemployed workers. Currently all states collectively posses $10.7 billion in trust fund assets(with the bulk held by less impacted states such as Washington ($2.6 billion), Louisiana ($1.1 billion) and Oregon ($1.1 billion). On the other hand, 26 states currently rely exclusively on the Federal Government, and have borrowed a combined $30 billion through December to fund payments. ProPublica estimates that another 8 states will be insolvent within 6 months, as their trust funds also approach 0.

The chart below demonstrates the amount of borrowing per state, as well as trust fund holdings.

Another way of visualizing the damage can be seen on the following chart which highlights

The most bankrupt states are California, with $6.8 billion in borrowings, Michigan ($3.4 billion), New York ($2.4 billion), Pennsylvania ($2.2 billion) and Ohio ($1.9 billion).

A chart demonstrating the collapse in California's trust fund, coupled with the relentless increase in the state's unemployment rate, together with Benefits paid out and actual Revenue gained (if any). Note that the April/May tax revenue collection spike, unlike in prior periods, did nothing to boost the trust fund in 2009.

So what is happening on the Federal side of the ledger? Recall that in December the government spent $14.65 billion in Unemployment Insurance Benefits, which was a 24% jump from the $11.8 billion in November. How is January shaping up? Through January 28th, the Federal Government had spent a total of $13.85 billion for this outlay. Once we get the Friday additional data, we will update our previous chart" we expect the final number to be about $14.1 billion, roughly in line with the December total. 

At this point there is no question that the vast majority of the hardest hit states now subsist exclusively due to the generosity of the Federal Government, which in turn, courtesy of a 50%+ indirect take down of each and every Treasury auction (now that QE is over), is at the full mercy of foreign investors, yet as we pointed out, their custody holdings at the Fed have started declining. If the government is unable to finance its profligate ways, and today's budget announcement by Obama is just the icing on the cake, look for states to gradually reign in unemployment checks whether they like it or not, which would likely lead to some very interesting demonstrations of the broader population's lack of solidarity with Mr. Blankfein's $100 million, or whatever it may end up being, bonus number. Our advice to California readers who believe they are owed a refund: file your taxes ASAP - the market for IOUs still has to be properly securitized by JP Morgan.

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Gold...Bitches's picture

Its Greece all over the place.

DaveyJones's picture

lets smash some White House dinner plates

Anonymous's picture

And then head on over to Finance Street for some more smashing?

Anonymous's picture

Greece is the ward. CalifornikatIOUn.

MarketTruth's picture

The % of Greece to the Euro currency is SMALL BEANS as compared to the % the Republik of Kalifornia is to the USA's dollar currency. Then add in other States PLUS their future retirement fund obligations...

master_of_puppets's picture

so i should get unemployed real quick before i miss out???

Yophat's picture

Unless Congress extends it again (entirely possible)...the cut off for the Fed side of the unemployment funding (not state loans) will end July 31, 2010.

CoopDeluxe's picture

Where is Project Mayhem???

Internet Tough Guy's picture

Maybe the killer ukrainian super-flu got him.

Anonymous's picture

+111 LOL!!!

Or maybe the black helicopters finally came for him...

Lou629's picture

I think it was something more along the lines of this:

The black helicopters found his bunker and deliberately released the Ukrainian killer flu bug on him, while the WHO and MSM remain criminally silent in their conspiracy to not report it.

WaterWings's picture

OH LOOK! Lou is back!!

Hi, Lou!!

Seemed like the last time I saw you it was the disinformation you were spreading!

You can't seem to post something without mentioning tin foil or black helicopters. Why dontcha' come up with something original for once!! Or get the Fuck outta here.

Lou629's picture


Good to be back, and you're still an asshole i see, but i missed you while i was on vacation.  BTW, when you become a forum administrator, then you can tell me what to do.  Go fuck yourself otherwise. 

As for disinformation, you're the one defending the likes of PM, so you are hereby awarded the Goebbels prize for truth in journalism. 

WaterWings's picture


My avatar is a disclaimer. But avoid my counsel and pay the price. At least I don't repeat myself every other post.

Lou629's picture

Well howbout'dat?  You've gotten to a point where now you think it's only every other post.  Better be careful there W2, next thing you know, you'll be finding yourself agreeing with me on something or other...lol...

Hephasteus's picture

Uh. Oklahoma has not had much unemployment yet tax revenue is down so badly that they fussed for weeks about how to save 10 million lousy little dollars to keep from firing several police and fire department people. They could probably actually let about 20 to 30 useless cops go though. So even if unemployment shows gray on these states they got other problems.

I saw a funny news clip where one city was going to spend several million dollars to advertise the need to raise taxes because they didn't have enough money.

Michigan is just a kind of fucked that has never been dealt with by anyone outside of a war zone where you were losing badly.

Hephasteus's picture

Well watched the news tonight. 600 million dollar rainy day fund. 555million of it going goodbye next year. Hoping that things pick up and those numbers won't be so dire but people will re-entrench harder and make that fund go poof.

Great depression II Quit Harder. When your angels come to take you back home. Tell them to get lost. The only way to beat relentless stupidity is through relentless quitting. The one in control remains in control. Till they control nothing.

Anonymous's picture

i am all for getting rid of useless cops and that
begs the question of whether useless cops is
a redundant pair of words.

Anonymous's picture

certainly "oxymoron" makes "redundant pair of words" somewhat redundant

Stranger's picture

What difference does it make? It all goes on the Federal Government's infinite credit card.

Internet Tough Guy's picture

Until the federal credit line gets closed by China. And they aren't happy about the Taiwan development.

Anonymous's picture

Rosetta Stone: So we can say, "Yes, Master" in the appropriate language...

Stranger's picture

The Federal credit line is the Federal Reserve Bank. Even if the Chinese close their account, the Fed will keep extending credit.

That is how it has worked in every other country.

Anonymous's picture

Until the Arabs shut the oil off.

WaterWings's picture

Haiti has a huge potential for oil. Possibly bigger then Venny with all that unexplored territory with three tec plates constantly shifting underneath.

Anonymous's picture

The Federal Government has a Chinese issue credit card. And purchases earn us reward points on Chinese merchandise.

Is that how the world works?

harveywalbinger's picture

The Chinese hate it, but our organized crime racket is more powerful than their organized crime racket.  We've got world reserve currency status.  As long as that's the case, we control the game.  We win.  That's the way it is.  Until it's not, then we're fucked.  

I say "we" as if to say we peasants get to participate in the looting.  If only it were so...  All the peasants can look forward to participating in is getting bent over...  

I'm pretty sure that's how the world works.

Steak's picture

Were that the credit card actually had an infinite limit...

Off topic but i couldn't resist given your namesake:

<As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hatred.>

Dantzler's picture

R.I.P. Albert

Sarkozy should leave him be.

tom a taxpayer's picture

Stranger - Great point.

Uncle Sap - "Another round for all the states. Sure boys, its on me. Hey, Maestro, keep playing the music. I want to hear "Wait til the sun shines Nellie". Louder! Louder!" 

Trifecta Man's picture

Hey mister, could you stake a fellow American to a meal?

Whizbang's picture

It's amazing to me that you can fund 20% of the country's unemployment for less than 5% of tarp outlays. What the f*ck?

Internet Tough Guy's picture

Great post. Clear, cutting, and concise.

SDRII's picture

look at transfer p[ayments in the most recent "personal Income" numbers - up $14B m.m

Hammer59's picture

Where is Project Mayhem? I checked his web-site, and he has'nt made a posting for over a month. Miss his insight.

John Self's picture

Or at least his splashy pictures that were vaguely suggestive of some insight.

JR's picture

So do I miss his insight, his cut to the core of political and economic nonsense.  This Week in Mayhem was one of the most powerful, courageous layouts of basic truths and clear thinking that we had going for us.  Every episode was a brilliant performance!

God help us if Project Mayhem has put aside his keyboard.

Anonymous's picture

Nah just carried away by black helicopters. Not so sure everything was "brilliant". A lot of it was a re-hash of ZH articles and a roundup of info readily available on other sites.

that being said, props for the effort.

Kissy Ass's picture

He got to Level 3 ID'ing The Reston 6. You have to be a ghost when you get to that level or you don't survive.

(HAARP, boiling water in large underground aquifers, earthquakes for sale).

JR's picture

The famous New Deal opponent Albert Jay Nock wrote that the power of the State increases because of three "principal indexes”:


  1. Centralization.  “Practically all of the sovereign rights and powers of the smaller political units…have been absorbed by the federal unit.”
  2.  Extension of bureaucracy.  “The pressure of centralization has tended powerfully to convert every political aspirant in the smaller units into a venal and complaisant agent of the federal bureaucracy.”
  3. Erection of poverty and mendicancy into a permanent political asset.  “All that was needed to organize these unfortunates into an invaluable political property was to declare the doctrine that the State owes all its citizens a living; and this was accordingly done.  It immediately precipitated an enormous mass of subsidized voting-power, an enormous resource for strengthening the State at the expense of society.
Anonymous's picture

thank you for this outstanding nugget....i am
unfortunately taking an american history class
where an assigned reading is a hagiography on
the new deal and fdr as though that drum hasn't
been beat into pulverization....

i am currently reading rothbard as an antidote
but now i have some icing on the cake.

NRGTDR's picture

Maybe this info will accelerate the "Flight to Safety" to the security of the greenback bunker. LOL...."Flight to Safety"....

bugs_'s picture

An additional thought to those that have not yet
been layed off (or who got laid off and took a
lower paying job and haven't been laid off from
that yet):

Don't factor the availability of unemployment
into your plans.  The "states" will have to
"reign in" the outlays.  Now that the first
"10%" have received their extended-extended
benefits and depleted the funds, upcoming
first time filers may not be able to obtain
their entitled relief from the UI ponzi.

Anonymous's picture

I disagree. The illusion will be maintained at all costs.

crzyhun's picture

Yah, but taxes are going up...that should help!

ReallySparky's picture

My business laid off some people last year, I see the unemployment benefit statements come in and my heart just cringes.  I knew these people and what their lifestyles were like.  Heard the stories of their kids, yadda, yadda. As a business owner, I always hated paying the taxes, and felt ripped off when I fired some lazy or dishonest SOB, and they got benefits.  Now when I see those statements, I am secretly glad that I paid those taxes.  It hurts that I can't provide employment for these "good" workers because of the economy.  I cringe because I know that based upon the benefits that they are recieving, they must be close to starving.  Sad, really sad.

SWRichmond's picture

The most bankrupt states are California, with $6.8 billion in borrowings, Michigan ($3.4 billion), New York ($2.4 billion), Pennsylvania ($2.2 billion) and Ohio ($1.9 billion).

States which furnished the most troops for the invasion of the Confederacy:

  • New York: 448,500
  • Pennsylvania: 337,900
  • Ohio: 313,100

How do you like your almighty government now?