Losing a job or getting laid off can be challenging. The national unemployment rate is at 3.6%, with some states and territories going as high as 6.4% as of 2022. It’s a hard spot no one likes to be in and can get overwhelming quickly.
Between figuring out your next move and searching for a job, you might be considering filing a claim for unemployment benefits. If so, we’re here to make things easier for you by explaining the unemployment process, how to determine if you’re eligible and providing a guide on unemployment benefits by state.
What is unemployment insurance?
Unemployment insurance is a federal-state program created by the U.S. Department of Labor that provides unemployment benefits to eligible people. While each state’s government is free to customize their unemployment benefits program however they see fit, they must all follow the same guidelines established by federal law.
This means that eligibility rules, how unemployment benefits are calculated and the length of unemployment benefits will vary state by state.
Are you eligible for
As we said before, the eligibility rules for unemployment benefits vary state by state. However, you may usually qualify if:
- You’re unemployed through no fault of your own. In most states, this means that the employer let you go because there was no available work or they fired you unfairly.
- You meet your state’s base period. To collect unemployment benefits, you must have worked a minimum amount of time or received a minimum payment from your previous employer. For most states, the base period is one year and it’s the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters before you file the claim.These are the calendar quarters:
So, for example, if you apply for unemployment benefits in March 2022, the base period would be Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021.
- You meet any additional state requirements. Remember, some things will vary by state, so you must check your state’s unemployment benefits program.
How are unemployment benefits calculated?
States use different formulas to calculate how much unemployment benefits you’ll receive, but they all consider what you used to earn. Some states, for example, consider your annual earnings while others only look at your payments during the highest paid quarter or two-quarters of the based period.
Some other things to know about earnings:
- If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits, the notice they send will say how much you can expect to receive.
- Unemployment benefits are taxable. You can choose to have up to 10% withheld to pay federal income taxes.
- If you earn other income while receiving unemployment benefits, the amount you receive may be reduced. If you pick up temporary work for a few days, you must report it to your state’s unemployment office and they’ll decide whether to adjust your unemployment benefits.
- If you find a new job, you will no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits.
What’s the duration of unemployment benefits?
While it varies by state, usually, most states offer unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks (or half a year). However, unemployment benefits might be extended further in times of high unemployment, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to check with your local unemployment agency about how long you’ll be receiving unemployment benefits.
Applying for unemployment benefits
Anyone can apply for unemployment benefits and receive them, so long as they meet their state’s requirements.
How to apply for unemployment benefits
You must file a claim with your state’s unemployment agency to receive unemployment benefits. Depending on the state, you may file this claim in person, by telephone or online.
- After becoming unemployed, you should contact your state’s unemployment benefits office.
- Typically, your claim should be filed with the state where you worked. If you worked remotely with a company in another state or more than one state, the unemployment agency where you now live could give you the information you need about filing your claim with other states.
- You will be asked for specific information, like your physical address and the dates of your former employment. Be sure to give the correct and up-to-date information. Otherwise, your claim might be delayed.
- It may take two to three weeks after you file your claim to receive your first unemployment benefit check.
Unemployment benefits by state and territories
benefits for …
|Agency name||Phone number|
|Alabama||Alabama Department of Labor||1-866-234-5382|
|Alaska||Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development||907-269-4700|
|Arizona||Arizona Department of Economic Security||1-877-600-2722|
|Arkansas||Arkansas Department of Workforce Services||501-682-2121|
|California||California Employment Development Department||1-800-300-5616|
|Colorado||Colorado Department of Labor and Employment||303-318-9000|
|Connecticut||Connecticut Department of Labor||1-800-956-3294|
|Delaware||Delaware Department of Labor||New Castle County:|
|District of Columbia||District of Columbia Department of Employment Services||202-724-7000|
|Florida||Florida Department of Economic Opportunity||1-800-204-2418|
|Georgia||Georgia Department of Labor||1-877-709-8185|
|Hawaii||Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations||Oahu:|
|Idaho||Idaho Department of Labor||208-332-8942|
|Illinois||Illinois Department of Employment Security||1-800-244-5631|
|Indiana||Indiana Department of Workforce Development||1-800-891-6499|
|Iowa||Iowa Workforce Development||1-866-239-0843|
|Kansas||Kansas Department of Labor||1-800-292-6333|
|Kentucky||Kentucky Career Center Office of Unemployment Insurance||502-564-2900|
|Louisiana||Louisiana Workforce Commission||1-866-783-5567|
|Maine||Maine Department of Labor||1-800-593-7660|
|Maryland||Maryland Department of Labor||410-949-0022|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance||617-626-6338|
|Michigan||Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity||1-866-500-0017|
|Minnesota||Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development||Twin Cities Area:|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Department of Employment Security||601-493-9427|
|Missouri||Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations||1-800-320-2519|
|Montana||Montana Department of Labor and Industry||406-444-2545|
|Nebraska||Nebraska Department of Labor||1-855-995-8863|
|Nevada||Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation||Northern Nevada:|
Rural Areas and Out of State Callers:
|New Hampshire||New Hampshire Department of Employment Security||1-800-852-3400|
|New Jersey||New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development||North New Jersey:|
Central New Jersey:
South New Jersey:
|New Mexico||New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions||1-877-664-6984|
|New York||New York Department of Labor||1-888-209-8124|
|North Carolina||North Carolina Department of Commerce||1-888-737-0259|
|North Dakota||North Dakota Job Service||701-328-4995|
|Ohio||Ohio Department of Job and Family Services||1-877-644-6562|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma Employment Security Commission||1-800-555-1554|
|Oregon||Oregon Employment Department||1-877-345-3484|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry||1-888-313-7284|
|Puerto Rico||Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources||787-625-7900|
|Rhode Island||Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training||401-243-9100|
|South Carolina||South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce||1-866-831-1724|
|South Dakota||South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation||605-626-3179|
|Tennessee||Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development||1-877-813-0950|
|Texas||Texas Workforce Commission||1-800-939-6631|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Labor||340-773-1994|
|Utah||Utah Department of Workforce Services||Salt Lake and South Davis Counties:|
Weber and North Davis Counties:
Other Counties and Out of State:
|Vermont||Vermont Department of Labor||1-888-807-7072|
|Virginia||Virginia Employment Commission||1-866-832-2363|
|Washington||Washington Employment Security Department||1-800-318-6022|
|West Virginia||Workforce West Virginia||1-800-379-1032|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development||1-844-910-3661|
|Wyoming||Wyoming Department of Workforce Services||307-473-3789|
Unemployment benefits for ex-service members
The U.S. Department of Labor has a federal-state unemployment benefits program for ex-service members and former members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The benefits will vary state by state. Generally, to be eligible for this unemployment benefits program, you must:
- Have been on active duty with a branch of the U.S. military.
- Have been separated under honorable conditions.
In addition, there is no payroll deduction of your wages for unemployment insurance protection. Your benefits will be paid for by the various branches of the military or NOAA.
Unemployment benefits for federal employees
If you were a federal employee, the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees is a program that provides unemployment benefits for eligible unemployed former civilian federal employees.
Disaster unemployment assistance
If you’re unemployed directly due to a major disaster declared by the President of the United States, the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to provide financial relief. It’s specifically made for people whose employment or self-employment has been affected or interrupted by a disaster and are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
Should there be a disaster, the affected state will announce the availability of DUA and anyone affected should contact their state’s unemployment agency.
Life is unpredictable. If you find yourself unemployed, whether it was because you were laid off or due to a disaster, know that you’re not alone and there are resources available to help you. Unemployment benefits stabilize you until you find your footing again, so take a deep breath and reach out to your state’s unemployment agency.