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PO LI CY B ASI CS

Updated May 20, 2013

How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?

The unemployment insurance (UI) system helps many people who have lost their jobs by temporarily replacing part of their wages. (See "Introduction to Unemployment Insurance.") The total number of weeks of benefits available in any particular state depends on the unemployment rate and unemployment insurance laws in the state where the person worked. The map below shows the maximum number of weeks of benefits currently available in each state.

Workers are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the regular state-funded unemployment compensation program in most states. Workers in any state who exhaust their regular UI benefits before they can find a job can currently receive up to 14 additional weeks of benefits through the temporary federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program enacted in 2008. That number rises to 47 weeks in states with especially high unemployment rates. (See chart on next page.)

POLICY BASICS

How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?

Workers who exhaust their regular UI and EUC benefits can receive additional weeks of benefits through the permanent federal-state Extended Benefits (EB) program if their state's unemployment laws allow them to use an optional "trigger" for EB based on the unemployment rate thresholds in the chart below -- and if the unemployment rate over the most recent three months is at least 10 percent higher than it was during the same three-month period in any of the previous three years. (The mandatory "trigger" for EB is based on a different measure of unemployment that is typically not attained until the normal unemployment rate is much higher than the thresholds shown below.)

[T]he maximum

number of weeks of UI available in highunemployment states, which had been 99, has shrunk to 73 (93 if a state can offer EB).

Federal legislation enacted in February 2012 reduced the maximum number of weeks of additional benefits available through EUC from 53 to the 47 now available. In addition, even states with high unemployment rates typically no longer meet the "three-year lookback" condition described above for offering EB. As a result the maximum number of weeks of UI available in high-unemployment states, which had been 99, has shrunk to 73 (93 if a state can offer EB). Currently, no state offers EB.

The table on the following page shows the average unemployment rate for each state over the past three months, as well as the maximum number of weeks of UI benefits currently available in each state through regular UI, EUC, and EB. Current law provides temporary federal benefits through the end of 2013.

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POLICY BASICS

How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation Are Available?

Individuals who receive

fewer than 26 weeks of regular state benefits are eligible for proportionally fewer federal benefits as well.

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