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Unemployment Resources: The Ultimate Guide

The U.S. Department of Labor has unemployment insurance programs that provide financial support to eligible workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own.

This unemployment insurance comes from a joint state-federal program that gives cash benefits to workers who meet eligibility criteria. But who can claim for unemployment benefits and how does the system work?


State unemployment benefits

Each state has its own unemployment insurance with slightly different benefits and criteria for eligibility. However, all states follow the same guidelines as established by federal law. Check out our resources below to find out more about the differences in unemployment programs between states.

Contacting the unemployment office

Your state will have an unemployment office that should be able to give you detailed information about eligibility and how to apply for unemployment in your state. If you need to contact your local employment office, you can find each state's relevant department, phone number, and website below.

State Agency Phone Website
StateAlabama AgencyAlabama Department of Labor Phone866-234-5382 Website
StateAlaska AgencyAlaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Phone907-269-4700 Website
StateArizona AgencyArizona Department of Economic Security Phone1-877-600-2722 Website
StateArkansas AgencyArkansas Department of Workforce Services Phone501-682-2121 Website
StateCalifornia AgencyCalifornia Employment Development Department Phone1-800-300-5616 Website
StateColorado AgencyColorado Department of Labor and Employment Phone303-318-9000 Website
StateConnecticut AgencyConnecticut Department of Labor Phone1-800-956-3294 Website
StateDelaware AgencyDelaware Department of Labor PhoneNew Castle County: 302-761-6576
Other Areas: 1-800-794-3032
StateFlorida AgencyFlorida Department of Economic Opportunity Phone1-800-204-2418 Website
StateGeorgia AgencyGeorgia Department of Labor Phone1-877-709-8185 Website
StateHawaii AgencyHawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations PhoneOahu: 808-586-8970
Hilo: 808-974-4086
Kona: 808-322-4822
Maui: 808-984-8400
Kauai: 808-274-3043
StateIdaho AgencyIdaho Department of Labor Phone208-332-8942 Website
StateIllinois AgencyIllinois Department of Employment Security Phone1-800-244-5631 Website
StateIndiana AgencyIndiana Department of Workforce Development Phone1-800-891-6499 Website
StateIowa AgencyIowa Workforce Development Phone1-866-239-0843 Website
StateKansas AgencyKansas Department of Labor Phone1-800-292-6333 Website
StateKentucky AgencyKentucky Career Center Office of Unemployment Insurance Phone502-564-2900 Website
StateLouisiana AgencyLouisiana Workforce Commission Phone1-866-783-5567 Website
StateMaine AgencyMaine Department of Labor Phone1-800-593-7660 Website
StateMaryland AgencyMaryland Department of Labor Phone410-949-0022 Website
StateMassachusetts AgencyMassachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance Phone617-626-6338 Website
StateMichigan AgencyMichigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Phone1-866-500-0017 Website,5863,7-336-78421_97241---,00.html
StateMinnesota AgencyMinnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development PhoneTwin Cities Area: 651-296-3644
Greater Minnesota: 1-877-898-9090
StateMississippi AgencyMississippi Department of Employment Security Phone601-493-9427 Website
StateMissouri AgencyMissouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Phone1-800-320-2519 Website
StateMontana AgencyMontana Department of Labor and Industry Phone406-444-2545 Website
StateNebraska AgencyNebraska Department of Labor Phone1-855-995-8863 Website
StateNevada AgencyNevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation PhoneNorthern Nevada: 775-684-0350
Southern Nevada: 702-486-0350
Rural Areas and Out of State Callers: 1-888-890-8211
StateNew Hampshire AgencyNew Hampshire Department of Employment Security Phone1-800-852-3400 Website
StateNew Jersey AgencyNew Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development PhoneNorth New Jersey: 201-601-4100
Central New Jersey: 732-761-2020
South New Jersey: 856-507-2340
Out-of-state claims: 1-888-795-6672
StateNew Mexico AgencyNew Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Phone1-877-664-6984 Website
StateNew York AgencyNew York Department of Labor Phone1-888-209-8124 Website
StateNorth Carolina AgencyNorth Carolina Department of Commerce Phone1-888-737-0259 Website
StateNorth Dakota AgencyNorth Dakota Job Service Phone701-328-4995 Website
StateOhio AgencyOhio Department of Job and Family Services Phone1-877-644-6562 Website
StateOklahoma AgencyOklahoma Employment Security Commission Phone1-800-555-1554 Website
StateOregon AgencyOregon Employment Department Phone1-877-345-3484 Website
StatePennsylvania AgencyPennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Phone1-888-313-7284 Website
StateRhode Island AgencyRhode Island Department of Labor and Training Phone401-243-9100 Website
StateSouth Carolina AgencySouth Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce Phone1-866-831-1724 Website
StateSouth Dakota AgencySouth Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation Phone605-626-3179 Website
StateTennessee AgencyTennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Phone1-877-813-0950 Website
StateTexas AgencyTexas Workforce Commission Phone1-800-939-6631 Website
StateUtah AgencyUtah Department of Workforce Services PhoneSalt Lake and South Davis Counties: 801-526-4400
Weber and North Davis Counties: 801-612-0877
Utah County: 801-375-4067
Other Counties and Out of State: 1-888-848-0688
StateVermont AgencyVermont Department of Labor Phone1-888-807-7072 Website
StateVirginia AgencyVirginia Employment Commission Phone1-866-832-2363 Website
StateWashington AgencyWashington Employment Security Department Phone1-800-318-6022 Website
StateWest Virginia AgencyWorkforce West Virginia Phone1-800-379-1032 Website
StateWisconsin AgencyWisconsin Department of Workforce Development Phone1-844-910-3661 Website
StateWyoming AgencyWyoming Department of Workforce Services Phone307-473-3789 Website

Source [1] How Do I File For Unemployment Insurance

How to apply for unemployment benefits

To apply for unemployment benefits, you’ll need to make a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you last worked. You can file a claim in person, by telephone or online, but this will depend on the state you’re filing with.

How long do unemployment benefits last?

In most states, workers are entitled to up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits from the regular state-funded unemployment program. However, there are nine states that offer less time for those receiving these benefits, and two states which offer more time. These states are shown below:

State Time period of regular unemployment insurance
Alabama 14 weeks
Arkansas 16 weeks
Florida 12 weeks
Idaho 21 weeks
Kansas 16 weeks
Massachusetts 30 weeks
Michigan 20 weeks
Missouri 20 weeks
Montana 28 weeks
North Carolina 12 weeks
South Carolina 20 weeks

Source [2] Weeks of Unemployment Compensation

How much do you get with unemployment benefits?

The amount of unemployment insurance you can claim varies depending on which state you’re claiming from. Typically the maximum amount you can claim ranges between $200 and $900 per week. Take a look at the table below to see the full breakdown of maximum weekly unemployment benefits you can claim in each state.

Massachusetts currently offers the highest maximum unemployment benefits of $823 per week, with Mississippi offering the least at $235 per week.

State  Maximum Weekly Benefit
Alabama $275
Alaska $370
Arizona $240
Arkansas $451
California $450
Colorado $618
Connecticut $649
Delaware $400
Florida $275
Georgia $365
Hawaii $648
Idaho $448
Illinois $484
Indiana $390
Iowa $481
Kansas $488
Kentucky $552
Louisiana $247
Maine $445
Maryland $430
Massachusetts $823
Michigan $362
Minnesota $740
Mississippi $235
Missouri $320
Montana $552
Nebraska $440
Nevada $483
New Hampshire $427
New Jersey $713
New Mexico $511
New York $504
North Carolina $350
North Dakota $618
Ohio $480
Oklahoma $539
Oregon $648
Pennsylvania $572
Rhode Island $586
South Carolina $326
South Dakota $414
Tennessee $275
Texas $535
Utah $580
Vermont $513
Virginia $378
Washington $790
West Virginia $424
Wisconsin $370
Wyoming $508

Source [3] Unemployment Benefits By State

Another thing to be aware of is that state laws in some states with a 26-week maximum use a sliding scale which is based on the individual’s earnings. This is used to work out the maximum number of weeks a worker qualifies for unemployment benefits. Aside from Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico, many UI recipients’ maximum is fewer than 26 weeks.

Eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits

Your eligibility for unemployment benefits depends on a number of factors, and these can vary depending on which state you’re in. But you’ll usually qualify if you meet the following criteria:

How do I know if I’m eligible for unemployment benefits?

When it comes to eligibility for unemployment insurance, employees must meet the following criteria in order to receive unemployment compensation:

Every state’s rules vary slightly, but this is a general outline of the conditions. Part-time and temporary workers can also be eligible for unemployment insurance if they meet their state’s criteria.

What is eligibility determination for unemployment?

During the claim process for unemployment insurance, you will receive a Determination of Unemployment Compensation. This is a notice telling you the amount of benefit you will be entitled to weekly based on the wages your recent employers have reported.

If you meet all of the eligibility requirements in your non-monetary documents, payment for the weeks you have claimed will be released to you. Each term of eligibility will be dealt with in its own separate document. So you could be deemed eligible on one of the terms, but disqualified on another. 

What is an eligibility review date for unemployment?

When collecting unemployment, the eligibility review date is the date that your claim will be reviewed by the unemployment office. This will be done to ensure that you are still eligible to receive the benefits and that your circumstances haven’t changed.

Across the U.S., fraud is a major concern when it comes to unemployment insurance. The state wants to make sure that your details are still correct, you have not received a new source of income and you’re making efforts to secure a new job.

Can you collect unemployment if you quit?

In most cases, if you choose to quit your job, you will not be entitled to claim unemployment benefits. However, the answer is complicated, and it really depends on the reason why you quit your job.

Unemployment benefits are available to workers who experience a sudden loss of income, usually due to being laid off. They are there to fill the gap in income between jobs and provide you with financial help until you find a new job. Remember, employment programs are dealt with by individual states, so where you live may affect your eligibility.

If you quit your job voluntarily, you usually won’t be eligible to claim these benefits. However, there are some acceptable reasons for quitting your job that may still allow you to claim unemployment support. These reasons will typically be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility.

Reasons for quitting your job

People quit jobs for many reasons: lack of progression, unsociable hours, and lack of childcare are just a few examples. But these don’t fall under the legal requirement of a ‘good cause’ for quitting. If you’re wondering whether you can collect unemployment if you quit your job, in some circumstances, you can.

What to do when quitting your job

Deciding to leave your job can be daunting. You might wonder if you’re making the right decision or if it’s too risky to quit and lose your income. 

If you are going to quit, it’s best to do it respectfully and go about it the right way. Here are some tips to follow to make quitting your job as painless as possible.

Leaving a job can be a difficult process, especially if you’ve been in that position for a while. But trying to leave on a positive note is the best course of action if you’re looking to get yourself a good reference for future jobs.

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Can you collect unemployment if you work part-time?

If you lose your full-time job and take on a part-time job, it might seem like you’d lose your eligibility for unemployment benefits, but this is not necessarily the case. You may still be able to receive unemployment support if you’re currently working part-time, or if you’ve lost your part-time job.

You’ll still need to qualify for unemployment insurance based on your employment history, and your eligibility for partial unemployment depends on your state.

Eligibility for partial unemployment

Unemployment benefits are available for workers who have experienced a sudden loss of income through no fault of their own, usually by being laid off.

However, the same can apply if your employer has given you reduced hours or you can only find part-time work when you need full-time work to pay your regular bills and expenses.

Partial unemployment benefits can encourage workers to remain in part-time work while they continue looking for new full-time work. These benefits may also be available for people who have lost their part-time job, depending on what state you’re in.

Qualifying criteria for partial unemployment

Typically, if you have chosen to scale back your hours due to personal or family reasons, you would no longer be eligible to claim partial unemployment. However, it’s a good idea to check with your local state labor office as some states have different criteria.

The general guidelines on criteria for claiming partial unemployment benefits are:

As we mentioned earlier, it depends on whether your reduced hours were your choice or happened due to your own actions. If it wasn’t your choice or due to your actions, you should still be able to collect unemployment benefits.

Keeping track of what you earn

If you’re working a part-time job and claiming partial unemployment, you need to make sure you’re keeping track of how many hours you’re working. If you collect benefits that you aren’t entitled to based on how much you earn, this is classed as fraudulent and you could get into trouble for claiming benefits illegally.

To continue receiving partial unemployment insurance payments, you will also need to keep records of your search for full-time work. This is to show the unemployment agency that you are making a conscious effort to look for new work which meets your financial needs.

How are partial unemployment benefits calculated?

Usually, states will calculate how much you would be entitled to if you were completely unemployed, and then subtract the amount you’re earning per week through your part-time job.

Some states have different rules when it comes to calculating partial unemployment. The calculation will sometimes be adjusted based on how much you earn and how many hours you work per week.

Reasons to take a part-time job

Taking a part-time job while on unemployment insurance can have many benefits. It brings in some extra income, while it might not be as much as you got on your full-time job, you’ll probably earn more than you would by being on unemployment alone.

Having part-time work can also help in your job search. You’ll be learning new skills which may be in demand and developing experience that can improve your prospects with new employers. It will also help to reduce gaps on your resume, which gives you a better chance of finding a new job.

Can you collect unemployment after being fired?

The answer to whether you can collect unemployment after being fired depends on the reason why you were fired. Generally, unemployment benefits are available to workers who have lost their source of income due to a reason which wasn't their fault. For example, workers who are laid off because of economic reasons like a factory closure.

Usually, an employee who has been fired for serious misconduct will not be eligible to claim unemployment benefits. In most states, the employee’s behavior has to be pretty serious in order to make them ineligible for unemployment insurance.

If you have been fired because you’re not a good fit for the job, or you failed to meet the company’s expectations, this usually won’t affect your eligibility for a claim.

Reasons for being fired from a job

There are certain forms of misconduct that will make you ineligible for claiming unemployment benefits. Some of these include:

Usually, if you’re fired for one of these reasons, you won’t be eligible to claim unemployment benefits in most states. This is not an exhaustive list and there may be more reasons that someone could be fired from a job which would make them ineligible to collect unemployment. Some states have slightly different rules, however, so it’s worth checking with your local unemployment office if you’re unsure.

Could an unemployment claim be contested?

When a fired employee makes a claim for unemployment, their previous employer will usually receive a document from the federal or state unemployment agency with details of their departure. 

Employers do have the right to contest a claim for unemployment insurance by their previous employee if they believe it to be misleading or false. If an ex-employer chooses to contest a claim, they will need to have detailed documents and evidence to back up their contest. This should include:

The employee in question is also within their rights to appeal the denial of their unemployment claim. So an employer looking to contest the claim will need to have a solid case in order to avoid a costly legal challenge.

Unemployment application disputes

The procedure for handling unemployment benefits disputes will vary slightly depending on your state. If an employer states that their employee was fired for serious misconduct and should not be eligible for an unemployment claim, there will be a hearing. This hearing will take place either in person or on the phone, where both parties can present their arguments.

If you’re an employee and your claim is being disputed, you’ll need to find out which reasons for being fired exclude you from claiming unemployment in your state. You’ll then need to present evidence that you weren’t fired for any of these reasons. 

For example, you could have been fired from your job because you didn’t meet the company’s expectations but your employer claims you were fired for criminal behavior. You would be able to present your termination letter which states that the real reason was not meeting the company’s expectations.

Can you turn down a job offer if you’re collecting unemployment?

If you’re claiming unemployment, part of the agreement is that you make a conscious effort to look for a new job. So if a job comes along but it doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, do you have to take it?

Generally, failing to accept an offer of suitable work can be a reason for your unemployment benefits to be terminated. During the claims process, you will usually have to report back to the unemployment office about jobs you have applied for. As time goes on, you will have less flexibility over the jobs you choose to turn down.

What is classed as suitable work?

Suitable work is typically a job that offers similar wages to that of your last job, and duties that are in line with your skills, previous work experience, and education level. 

Other factors also affect what is considered suitable work in different states. These include:

Some states will change the definition of suitable employment based on how long you have been unemployed. This means your options will be more limited the longer you collect unemployment insurance, or if you apply for extended unemployment benefits.

In California, suitable employment should be work that is related to your previous jobs and matches up with your primary skills and experience. California also takes into account the risk to the individual’s health, safety and morals, work experience, and prior earnings, along with your likelihood of getting a new job. [5] Suitable Work California

New York defines suitable employment as any work which is related to your primary skills or your secondary skills and experience. As time goes on, the longer you are unemployed, the definition of suitable work changes. After a certain number of weeks, the definition expands to include any work you can do regardless of if you have any experience. [6] Unemployment FAQ New York

Speak to your unemployment office about job offers

The rules regarding turning down job offers while collecting unemployment benefits can change depending on where you live and how long you’ve been unemployed. If you’re unclear on the regulations, it’s best to speak to your local state unemployment office to determine what you can do based on your circumstances.

Disclaimer: All information in this article is correct as of July 2022 but is subject to change. Please check your state’s eligibility requirements and rules when applying for unemployment support.


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