Policy Basics: How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?
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 one provides more. Extended Benefits (EB) are triggered on in nine states plus the District of Columbia. Additional weeks of federal benefits are also available in many states through September 6, 2021.
The federal-state unemployment insurance (UI) system helps many people who have lost their jobs by temporarily replacing part of their wages. (See “Policy Basics: Unemployment Insurance.”) Under certain circumstances, unemployed workers who exhaust their regular state-funded unemployment benefits before they can find work can receive additional weeks of benefits.
Under the CARES Act responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, all states provided 13 additional weeks of federally funded Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) benefits to people who exhausted their regular state benefits, followed by additional weeks of federally funded EB in states with high unemployment (up to 13 or 20 weeks depending on state laws). Under the Act, some people who exhausted all these benefits, and many others who lost their jobs for reasons arising from the pandemic but who were not normally eligible for UI in their state, were eligible for federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Successive legislation, most recently the American Rescue Plan Act, has extended the availability of PUA and PEUC through the week ending September 6, 2021.
However, many states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) have stopped providing PUA and PEUC. Louisiana will end these benefits at the end of this month. Judges in Maryland and Indiana have blocked those states from cutting off federal benefits.
The map below shows only the maximum number of weeks of regular plus EB benefits that are currently available in each state, as well as the states that have discontinued PEUC and PUA. It does not include the weeks of benefits that pandemic-specific programs can add.
Among the states not providing the standard 26-week maximum:
- Arkansas provides up to 16 weeks of regular benefits;
- Massachusetts provides up to 30 weeks of UI except when a federal extended benefits program is in place (as it is now) or in periods of low unemployment (as was the case through February 2020), when the maximum drops to 26 weeks;
- Michigan increased the maximum number of weeks to 26 earlier in the COVID-19 emergency but cut back to 20 weeks for new applicants in 2021;
- Montana provides up to 28 weeks of UI; and
- South Carolina and Missouri provide up to 20 weeks of UI.
The remaining six states periodically update their maximum weeks of UI available based on changes in the state’s unemployment rate:
- Alabama currently provides up to 14 weeks of UI for new enrollees, with an additional five-week extension for those enrolled in a state-approved training program;
- Georgia was providing 14 weeks of UI, but in the COVID-19 emergency that has risen to 26 weeks;
- Florida currently provides up to 19 weeks for claims filed after January 1, 2021;
- Idaho currently provides up to 21 weeks for new enrollees based on its February unemployment rate;
- Kansas was providing 16 weeks of UI before COVID-19, but that was extended to 26 weeks; and
- North Carolina currently provides up to 16 weeks for claims filed after January 3, 2021.
The table below shows the latest three-month average unemployment rate for each state from April to June, as well as the maximum number of weeks of benefits currently available through regular UI and EB. The number of weeks of EB in a state equals the smaller of 13 weeks or half the maximum number of weeks of regular UI in the state — unless the state has adopted an alternative trigger that adds up to seven more weeks when the state’s unemployment rate triggers on a High Unemployment Period (HUP), allowing up to 20 weeks of EB (but no more than 80 percent of the number of regular weeks the state provides). California, Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, and New York are currently in a HUP.
|Unemployment Rates and Weeks of Unemployment Insurance (UI) Available|
|State||Unemployment (3-month average)||Regular UI and extended benefits available*|
|District of Columbia||7.2||26+13 weeks|
|New Hampshire*||2.9||26 weeks|
|New Jersey||7.3||26+13 weeks|
|New Mexico||8.0||26+20 weeks|
|New York||7.9||26+20 weeks|
|North Carolina||4.8||16 weeks|
|North Dakota*||4.1||26 weeks|
|Puerto Rico||8.2||26 weeks|
|Rhode Island||6.1||26 weeks|
|South Carolina*||4.7||20 weeks|
|South Dakota*||2.8||26 weeks|
|Virgin Islands||7.5||26 weeks|
|West Virginia*||5.5||26 weeks|