Millions of Americans are still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and rely on unemployment insurance (UI) to meet essential expenses. Too often, though, these monthly payments fall short of a person's basic needs. According to a new report from Real Estate Witch, UI fails to cover minimal rent, food, and transportation costs in 75 of the 109 cities in the study.

The report finds significant regional differences in the amount of UI that people receive, directly affecting their ability to pay rent. (Each state determines the amount of UI, usually based on prior earnings and number of dependents.) The findings are sometimes surprising: While the South boasts a lower cost of living, it's actually the most unaffordable region for those on UI. The Northeast, in contrast, is the most affordable. 

The differences in the amount of UI can be striking. For instance, weekly unemployment insurance ranges from $5 in Alaska to $1,234 in Massachusetts.

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Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen is a senior columnist at The American Lawyer and the creator of The Careerist blog.