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 nine states provide fewer weeks and one provides more.
March 23, 2020
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 new CARES Act responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, all states will be allowed to provide up to 13 additional weeks of federally funded extended benefits to people who exhaust their regular state benefits. Under the Act, through the end of this year, people who exhaust both regular and extended benefits, and many others who have lost their jobs for reasons arising from the pandemic but who are not normally eligible for UI in their state, are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. People can receive a maximum of 39 weeks of benefits this year from all three sources combined.
The map below shows the maximum number of weeks of regular state benefits only that are currently available in each state. No state is yet providing extended benefits.
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 or in periods of low unemployment, as was the case through February, 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 for each eligible individual filing an initial claim through April 14, 2020;
- Arkansas and South Carolina provide up to 20 weeks of UI; and
- Missouri provides up to 13 weeks of UI.
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 21 weeks of UI;
- Kansas currently provides up to 16 weeks of UI;
- 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 currently provides up to 14 weeks of UI;
- Florida currently provides up to 12 weeks of UI; and
- North Carolina currently provides up to 12 weeks of UI.
The table below shows the latest three-month average unemployment rate for each state over November 2019 –January 2020, as well as the maximum number of weeks of UI benefits currently available in each state through regular UI.
|Unemployment Rates and Weeks of Unemployment Insurance (UI) Available|
|State||Unemployment (3-month avg.)||Reg. UI available|
|District of Columbia||5.3||26 weeks|
|New Hampshire||2.6||26 weeks|
|New Jersey||3.7||26 weeks|
|New Mexico||4.8||26 weeks|
|New York||3.9||26 weeks|
|North Carolina||3.6||12 weeks|
|North Dakota||2.4||26 weeks|
|Puerto Rico||8.6||26 weeks|
|Rhode Island||3.4||26 weeks|
|South Carolina||2.4||20 weeks|
|South Dakota||3.4||26 weeks|
|Virgin Islands||4.6||26 weeks|
|West Virginia||5.1||26 weeks|