Policy Basics: How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?

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Updated December 15, 2014

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The unemployment insurance (UI) system helps many people who have lost their jobs by temporarily replacing part of their wages.  (See “Introduction to Unemployment Insurance.”)  Workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the regular state-funded unemployment compensation program, although eight states provide fewer weeks and two provide more. (Emergency Unemployment Compensation, a temporary federal program that provided additional weeks of benefits to workers who exhausted their regular state UI before finding a job, expired at the end of 2013 and efforts to revive it have been unsuccessful so far.)

The map below shows the maximum number of weeks of benefits currently available in each state.

Of the states not providing the standard 26-week maximum:

  • Massachusetts provides up to 30 weeks of UI in the absence of a federal emergency unemployment compensation program.  When a federal program is in place, Massachusetts provides the usual maximum of 26 weeks;
  • Montana provides up to 28 weeks of UI;
  • Arkansas provides up to 25 weeks of UI; and
  • Michigan, Missouri, and South Carolina provide up to 20 weeks of UI.

The remaining four states update their maximum weeks of UI available once or twice a year based on the state’s unemployment rate:

  • Kansas is providing up to 20 weeks of UI in 2014, based on its three-month average unemployment rate at the start of the year; 
  • Florida is providing up to 16 weeks of UI in 2014, based on its three-month average unemployment rate in July-September of 2013;
  • Georgia provided up to 18 weeks of UI in the first half of 2014 (based on its October 2013 unemployment rate) and will provide up to 15 weeks for the rest of the year (based on its April 2014 unemployment rate); and
  • North Carolina provided up to 19 weeks of UI in the first half of 2014 (based on its July-September 2013 three-month average unemployment rate) and will provide up to 14 weeks for the rest of the year (based on its January-March 2014 three-month average unemployment rate).

The table below shows the latest three-month average unemployment rate for each state over August-October 2014, as well as the maximum number of weeks of UI benefits currently available in each state through regular UI.

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