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 30 states. Through the end of 2020, additional weeks of federal benefits are also available.
May 18, 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 13 additional weeks of federally funded Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) benefits to people who exhaust their regular state benefits, followed by up to 13 additional weeks of federally funded extended benefits (EB) in states with high unemployment. Under the Act, through the end of this year, people who exhaust all these 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 (PUA). Without new legislation, however, no PEUC or PUA benefits will be paid after December 31, 2020.
The map below shows only the maximum number of weeks of regular plus EB benefits that are currently available in each state. Through the end of the year the pandemic-specific programs can add weeks.
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;
- Arkansas, 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:
- Idaho currently provides up to 21 weeks of UI;
- Kansas normally provides up to 16 weeks of UI but that has been extended to 26 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 normally provides up to 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; 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 January 2020 – March 2020, as well as the maximum number of weeks of UI benefits currently available in each state through regular UI and EB (which is the smaller of 13 weeks and half the maximum number of weeks of regular UI in a state).
|Unemployment Rates and Weeks of Unemployment Insurance (UI) Available|
|State||Unemployment (3-month avg.)||Regular UI and extended benefits available*|
|District of Columbia||5.5||26 weeks|
|New Hampshire||2.6||26+13 weeks|
|New Jersey||3.8||26+13 weeks|
|New Mexico||5.2||26+13 weeks|
|New York||4.0||26+13 weeks|
|North Carolina||3.9||12+6 weeks|
|North Dakota||2.2||26 weeks|
|Puerto Rico||8.7||26+13 weeks|
|Rhode Island||3.8||26+13 weeks|
|South Carolina||2.5||20 weeks|
|South Dakota||3.3||26 weeks|
|Virgin Islands||4.3||26 weeks|
|West Virginia||5.3||26+13 weeks|