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 seven states provide fewer weeks and one provides more. Extended Benefits (EB) have triggered on in 15 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Additional weeks of federal benefits are also available through March 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 have lost their jobs for reasons arising from the pandemic but who were not normally eligible for UI in their state, were eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). COVID relief legislation enacted in December 2020 extended the availability of PUA and PEUC from the week ending December 26, 2020 to the week ending March 14, 2021 (with people receiving benefits on March 14 eligible to continue receiving any remaining benefits until April 5, 2021). The maximum number of weeks that could be paid was increased to 24 for PEUC and 50 for PUA.

The map below shows only the maximum number of weeks of regular plus EB benefits that are currently available in each state. It does not include the weeks of benefits that the pandemic-specific programs can add.

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

  • 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;
  • Montana provides up to 28 weeks of UI;
  • Michigan normally provides up to 20 weeks of UI, but in the COVID-19 emergency that has risen to 26 weeks;
  • South Carolina and Missouri provide up to 20 weeks of UI.
  • Arkansas provides up to 16 weeks of regular benefits.

The remaining six states periodically update their maximum weeks of UI available based on changes in the state’s unemployment rate:

  • Idaho currently provides up to 22 weeks for new enrollees;
  • Kansas was providing 16 weeks of UI before COVID-19, but that has been extended to 26 weeks through April 2021;
  • 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 12 weeks of UI for existing claims and 19 weeks for claims filed after January 1, 2021; and
  • North Carolina currently provides up to 12 weeks of UI to existing claimants and 16 weeks for claims filed after January 3, 2021.

The table below shows the latest three-month average unemployment rate for each state over October–December 2020, 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). The HUP ended December 26 in states that enacted legislation adopting the alternative trigger through the end of 2020 to take advantage of full federal funding of EB. As a result, only New Jersey and New York remain in a HUP.

TABLE 1
Unemployment Rates and Weeks of Unemployment Insurance (UI) Available
State Unemployment (3-month avg.) Regular UI and extended benefits available*
Alabama 4.7 14 weeks
Alaska 6.0 26+13 weeks
Arizona 7.8 26 weeks
Arkansas 5.6 16 weeks
California 8.7 26+13 weeks
Colorado 7.1 26 weeks
Connecticut 7.4 26+13 weeks
Delaware 5.3 26 weeks
District of Columbia 7.9 26+13 weeks
Florida 6.2 19 weeks
Georgia 5.3 26 weeks
Hawai’i 11.3 26+13 weeks
Idaho 4.9 22 weeks
Illinois 7.3 26+13 weeks
Indiana 4.9 26 weeks
Iowa 3.5 26 weeks
Kansas 4.7 26 weeks
Kentucky 6.3 26 weeks
Louisiana 8.4 26 weeks
Maine 5.1 26 weeks
Maryland 6.9 26 weeks
Massachusetts 7.2 26+13 weeks
Michigan 6.8 26+13 weeks
Minnesota 4.5 26 weeks
Mississippi 6.6 26 weeks
Missouri 5.0 20 weeks
Montana 4.7 28 weeks
Nebraska 3.0 26 weeks
Nevada 10.5 26+13 weeks
New Hampshire 4.0 26 weeks
New Jersey 8.6 26+20 weeks
New Mexico 7.8 26+13 weeks
New York 8.6 26+20 weeks
North Carolina 6.2 16 weeks
North Dakota 4.4 26 weeks
Ohio 5.8 26 weeks
Oklahoma 5.8 26 weeks
Oregon 6.4 26 weeks
Pennsylvania 7.0 26+13 weeks
Puerto Rico 8.6 26+13 weeks
Rhode Island 7.5 26+13 weeks
South Carolina 4.4 20 weeks
South Dakota 3.4 26 weeks
Tennessee 6.3 26 weeks
Texas 7.4 26 weeks
Utah 4.0 26 weeks
Vermont 3.1 26 weeks
Virgin Islands 12.4 26+13 weeks
Virginia 4.9 26 weeks
Washington 6.2 26+13 weeks
West Virginia 6.3 26 weeks
Wisconsin 5.6 26 weeks
Wyoming 5.2 26 weeks

* 24 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) are available in all states before extended benefits become available; the maximum weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for exhaustees equals 50 minus the number of weeks of regular UI and Extended Benefits (EB) received. No PEUC or PUA is available after April 5, 2021. A partial week in states with fewer than 26 weeks of regular benefits means a partial payment.

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