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

May 26, 2015

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.)

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 periodically update their maximum weeks of UI available based on changes in the state's unemployment rate:

  • Kansas provides up to 16 weeks of UI for new claimants in 2015, after providing up to 20 weeks in 2014;
  • Florida provides up to 14 weeks of UI for new claimants in 2015;
  • Georgia provides up to 17 weeks of UI for new claimants in 2015; and
  • North Carolina provides up to 15 weeks of UI for new claimants in 2015.

The table below shows the latest three-month average unemployment rate for each state over December 2014-February 2015, as well as the maximum number of weeks of UI benefits currently available in each state through regular UI.