Unemployment Benefits Comparison by State

Unemployment insurance programs are governed by State governments and are funded by state, federal and private companies that pay employment tax. Ultimately, the onus is on state government to balance the checkbook, so the state has to decide the benefits maximum amount, duration, and eligibility to receive the benefits. For this reason, you notice that unemployment benefits largely vary by state.

Some states like Massachusetts could pay as high as $1,019  depending on the eligibility criteria. But only a handful of states such as Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey provide such generous benefits. Majority of the states provide average benefits in the range of 300 to 500 dollars.

Before we get to the details,you can now check your eligibility and calculate benefits in your state.

Benefits Amount and Duration by State

This table provides a complete list of unemployment benefits and duration for all 50 states. It provides the maximum dollar amount per week and also the maximum number of weeks benefits provided by each state.

Comparison of State Unemployment Benefits.

StateUnemp RateMax Weeks of BenefitsMax.Weekly BenefitsMax. DA AllowanceTotal Weekly Benefits
Dist of Columbia626$359-$359
North Carolina4.520$350-$350
North Dakota2.526$570-$570
New Hampshire2.926$427-$427
New Jersey4.126$636-$636
New Mexico6.626$406$50$456
New York4.426$405-$405
Rhode Island4.126$566$141$707
South Carolina4.120$326-$326
South Dakota2.926$345-$345
West Virginia4.526$424-$424

Benefits Comparison Chart

The following comparison data provides an overview of benefits and shows which states pay well.

Compare State Unemployment Benefits

State Unemployment Benefits Comparison (Click to enlarge)


States that pay highest unemployment insurance compensation

  1. Massachusetts – $1,019
  2. Rhode Island – $707
  3. Connecticut – $665
  4. New Jersey – $636
  5. Minnesota – $629

Massachusetts seems to be providing highest amount, but please note that the amount ranges from $679 to $1,019 depending on your eligibility.  In terms of the duration, most of the top 5 states provide similar coverage.

States that pay lowest unemployment insurance compensation

  1. Mississippi – $235
  2. Arizona – $240
  3. Alabama – 265
  4. Tennessee – $275
  5. Florida – $275

Mississippi  pays the lowest amount in country, followed by Arizona.

States that provide unemployment compensation for longer duration

  1. Massachusetts – 30 Weeks
  2. Montana – 28 Weeks

States that provide unemployment compensation for shorter duration

  1. Georgia – 18 Weeks
  2. Florida – 19 Weeks
  3. North Carolina – 20 Weeks
  4. Missouri –  20 Weeks
  5. Michigan – 20 Weeks

Not surprisingly, the states that provide unemployment insurance coverage for a shorter  duration also provide less money. These are the “stingy” states you don’t want to live if you fear unemployment. These states are more likely to be business friendly as businesses don’t have to pay as much employment taxes compared to other states.

State Performance Excellence Awards

Dept. of Labor awards the states based on their  performance every year. The awards are given based on management, planning and oversight resulting into efficient service to workers and employers. This map shows six states that won the Performance Excellence Awards for 2013:

 If you want to know more, check out UI performance awards page

Data was collected from various govt. websites. There may be some minor errors and you are advised to contact the State employment office for most accurate and up-to-date info. Information is current as of Nov 2013. For further reading on unemployment insurance, please refer to the following articles.


  1. Todd says:

    We are all to blame. Buying things we couldn’t afford instead of saving and employers paying the avg guys as little as possible and moving jobs overseas. Many companies and people have lived off the “credit game” for too many years. I live in Ohio and have been looking for work for 18 months, but if an employer can produce 100 items for $100 why higher more people to produce at a smaller margin if people might not buy the items or service. In short, we are all paying it back now for all the misguided leadership and our own acts of the past 40 years. Have now, pay later… It’s later. However, history has taught us that if you take care of your own back yard things will get better!

  2. James says:

    We already know the job environment is dismal.
    We already know jobs have been leaking and pouring from this country since NAFTA.
    Many of us cried, complained and voted accordingly.
    Many of us have had the American Dream swept out from under us despite our steady increase in efficiency, a demand our former employers placed on us as a condition of keeping our jobs.
    Many of us got laid off anyway.
    Many of us went back to school on dwindling government grants and student loans, and found out that finding a new job wasn’t easy because of lack of experience.
    Many of us have jobs with our new skills and are paying back student loans along with our children with whom we compete in the job market and consider ourselves lucky.
    Many of us are older with a wealth of the experience we were formerly told we needed at an earlier age and couldn’t find a job in either circumstance.
    Many of us don’t want a handout.
    Many of us only want a chance. We are willing to earn our way as we always have. It hurts and angers us when we are presented with goods and services with the expectation that we will pay for them knowing full they are made and performed by hands and minds who occupy our former means of living.
    So, what do we do now? Is this acceptable to many of us?
    Giving up is not my way, but you know, still this is not right.

    After all, aren’t there many of us?

  3. colleen says:

    Hey your Father,
    I only made $9.35 an hour for a mid-level retail management job before I went on unemployment. I would kiss your feet if you can tell me where to find a job for minimum wage in florida. There are no jobs. I have been out of work and have sent out over 1500 inquiries and applications. I am an excellent employee w/ an outstanding cash handling record, good attendance and over ten years retail experience. I am prepared to start over from the beginning in any field, for any wage. I have only had 2 interviews, one at a job fair and the other at radio shack. The manager at radio shack didn’t bother to show up. This is the reality of the job situation. If you don’t have an in, you are not getting a job. At least during the great depression the government attempted to put people back to work. This time around they only seem interested in keeping corporate fat cats like the ones who sold my store in perrier and starbucks. If you aren’t looking for work, stop talking!!!!

  4. Nelson Jackson says:

    The State of Maryland is committing an egregious violation of human rights by not addressing the problems of the unemployed. Through numerous correspondences with legislators, it is apparent that it is with deliberate disregard that no legislation has been proposed or introduced to alleviate the disparity in benefits for those persons who have been denied coverage beyond 47 weeks. While the majority of states with high unemployment rates have programs that extend to 99 weeks and as on today will be extended again by the federal government, Maryland stands mute and ineffective. The basic mathematics in the benefit periods is unconscionable and suspiciously sinister.

    What is happening to the Maryland unemployed will not be forgotten and unlike the state legislators, they will not be silent or non-responsive. There will be consequences to this legislative malfeasance that will travel far beyond the affected individuals, their families, their communities and to local business. The fallout will be felt in the next election and the pain and suffering will spread like a cancer to those who have neglected the diagnosis. That’s a promise. The unemployed Maryland economy is intrinsically connected to the entire state body.

  5. Taylor says:

    @ Larry. You are very condescending, arrogant, and judgmental. In other words…very insecure. Who do you think you are correcting someone else’s’ spelling? you are in the hole yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t be on this page. Grow up!

  6. Scott says:

    Been laid off for a long time having hard time finding anythinjg. I live in WV, I worked in MD, I also had VA wages. MD paid slightly more so I filed in MD. I was given a choice of MD or VA, Now I am stymied at 73 weeks cause MD has lower Unemployment and VA has the full 99 weeks and the EB program.
    I was told to continue to file by MD. I have not gotten anything since end of Nov.
    Can I go to VA now and ask for EB or extended EUC benefits? I have gotten no letters other than telling me to keep filing from MD.

    I called MD Unemployment and was told my 73 weeks were paid and I had exausted my benefits. Since then Obama passed this latest extension on Dec.17th.

    I am reading that MD was not allowed anything passed 73 weeks and that they never clicked on the EB program. Being that I live in WV one of the highest states for unemployment and I also had wages in VA, do I have any options available can I now file in VA?

  7. Ken Ariel says:

    My wife and I were both laid off in Tennessee at the same company. She found a job in North Carolina and I am still unemployed. I can understand the first 26 weeks of unemployment would be at Tennessee rates, since that is where the money originated. However, the extensions are federal money. Why am I not allowed to draw at North Carolina’s rates, which are about $200/wk higher. Tennessee is giving me federal money; why can’t North Carolina? Anyone know the answer?

  8. TLSS says:

    Wow, I thought unemployment was uniform accross the board in regards to pay and duration? Some are receiving 900+ per wk for 70+ wks regular and EB unemployment, that’s more money than i have every made working. Those people still complain about making ends meet, try living in louisiana and receive 284.00 for 49 wks, then make ends meet.

  9. […] The average amount received per week is 36% of what they would normally make.  In Florida the maximum weekly payment is $275.  If you can name someone who would prefer making 64% less than usual, or who would prefer making […]

  10. Loss of Unemployment Benefits Could be Major Blow to Economy - Page 4 - CycloneFanatic says:

    […] permalink Originally Posted by brianhos I agree with DM. After 2 years, you are not really trying to find a job. If I got laid off and was desperate to feed my family, I would be stocking shelves at hyvee until I got a new job. Massachusetts pays up to $900 per week for unemployment benefits. Would you take a minimum wage job if it jeopardized losing unemployment benefits that paid more than your minimum wage job? Link: Unemployment Benefits Comparison by State | File Unemployment […]

  11. Lucinda says:

    @Jean-Most states have a medical quit clause that would allow you to be eligible for benefits, but it must be impossible for you to continue to perform the duties of your current job. The burden of proof lies on you to show that you are/were physically unable to perform your current job and you had no other choice but to quit. Also, something to remember is that in order to be eligible for benefits you must be able, available and actively seeking work. If you are not physically able to perform the duties of ANY job and cannot actively seek work, you will most likely be denied benefits.

    @George-You need to file your extension in Rhode Island. Just call them or check their website. They probably have a form that you need to fill out so they can get you started on it.

  12. George Trinidad says:

    I live in Rhode Island, my state unemployment ended last week, only last for 6 months. My question is, how and where do I file for unemployment extension? Will I file it with the state of Rhode Island or the federal goverment? I need your guidence regarding this. Appreciate your help. Thank you.

  13. lisa says:

    I live in VA and was a government contractor and have been unemployed since June due to the government cutting contractor positions. My unemployment is less than 20% of what my salary was. Many states cover close to 50% of what they were making. I would rather the states increase the percentage of what you make weekly than to extend the benefits time.

  14. Jean says:


    I have a question…I curently live in Pa and I will bemoving to Mo in about 6 weeks. I have been on STD 4 times this year due to health issues . Can I apply for benefits if I quit due to this? I can get documentation from my doctor to confirm this. I have been with the same company for 13 years. I am 50 years of age and I always worked and never had to file. Please help…

    Thank you so much

  15. […] Originally Posted by SLCPUNK It's easier to simply judge others rather than take a real look at what's going on out there. What's ironic is it's the same group of people who bemoan the "downfall of this country" often use UE stats as means to verify their empty diatribes. Then in the next breath turn around and say that there's actually jobs out there for everybody. They never realize, nor care, how much they contradict themselves. Either people are unable to find work because the economy has imploded or people are lazy, which one is it? I know a few programmers out of work and collecting. They are able to collect the max. They will not take any job, especially one that pays less than the max of UE per week. That's about $21K/year at $400/week. Others are contract jobs with no guarantee of steady employment. Why would they give up stability for instability ? I can't blame them either. There's no one cut and dry answer that everyone fits into. High paid folks out of work just might be making more by staying on UE than taking a min wage job. Mass. FYI can max out at $942/week or $49K/year. Unemployment Benefits Comparison by State | File Unemployment […]

  16. MD says:

    I live in Washington state, where the state government actively tries to prevent anyone from getting unemployment benefits, so wages are low and jobs are crap, and anyone who has 1/4 a brain or aspiration leaves. I made the mistake of moving here to take a what turned out to be a crappy job and am leaving as fast as I can. No wonder this state is pretty much empty.

  17. LF says:

    I am on umeployment in CT and trying to prevent becoming a statistic (ie losing my home), so I’m applying for mortgage modification, yet again. I took a big pay cut with my last job after being initially laid off last year, only to be laid off again. I’m trying to get more info on health insurance. I have never heard of “free health insurance” on unemployment, there is no such thing here in CT. COBRA is unaffordable. I purchased my own health ins for $200/mth, w/ a $5,000 deductible. Ridiculous. But it’s the best I can do. To qualify in CT for state-paid insurance, you have to be in squalor, ie, earning less than $300 A MONTH. Unless someone knows of something better on a federal level at the moment?

  18. […] state has different unemployment benefits, but the average according to fileunemployment.org is $410 a week for 67.33 weeks. That’s a maximum of $27,605 in benefits, paid out over about […]

  19. Eye on Williamson » Trying to make a living in the best state not to have a job in says:

    […] certainly can’t be the best state in the nation, as far as unemployment benefits are concerned.  And the rest of the social safety net isn’t much better.  We are, after all, a low […]

  20. AZCactusWren says:

    Look at Arizona’s amount! $240

    Wow, try living here. You still get a $340 electric bill in the summer if you have a small house without a pool and keep the thermostat up at 84 degrees.

  21. greattimes says:

    Wow, Live in Massachusetts. Get laid off and make more than the average school teacher does in retirement. What a deal. Why work?

  22. RICH says:

    IM GLAD they passed The Extension

  23. John says:

    Who is eligible for the 99 weeks of benefits and does the latest extension passed in congress in August add to that?

  24. […] imo, and a disincentive to work. And, if one has a highly paid working spouse, doubly so. Unemployment Benefits Comparison by State | File Unemployment Unlike Social Security which is paid 50/50 employer/worker, unemployment insurance is 100% paid by […]

  25. Larry says:

    @Gary: I hope correcting your spelling on your resume was one of them…. lol

    fortunatly = fortunately
    benificial = beneficial
    frutrating = frustrating
    benifits = benefits
    postion = position

  26. Gary says:

    I went to a mandatory meeting at my local Florida Unemployment office today and fortunatly learned a few good tidbits about job hunting that WILL be benificial. Like many who are in line, it is a frutrating postion to find oneself in. I was told at the office that Florida ranks #49th in benifits (Unemployment check amount) paid by unemployment. Brother, can ya spare a dime?

  27. […] LOL – never underestimate the ingenuity of the insurance companies. Of course, there would be the 26 week waiting period, and then a limit to benefits paid. They probably can't quit figure out how to limit their risk – actuarial studies on industries, occupations, age, location, etc. needed first. Wouldn't be surprised that in a few years, this product will be available. Until the US is through this recession though, doubt any insurance company wants to enter that market. Personally, I think it's a nonstarter for about 10 years. For example, look at the disparity in benefits paid by state – as high as $994/wk: Unemployment Benefits Comparison by State | File Unemployment […]

  28. Kate says:

    The unemployment statistics used to calculate the unemployment rate, and thus, a State’s eligibility for extended unemployment compensation benefits are inaccurate and resulting in not only the denial of Federal benefits to the State but also the denial of the individual unemployed worker to equal protection under the law.

    The labor force components (civilian labor force, employed, unemployed and unemployment rate) as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are set forth below:

    Civilian labor force. Included are all persons in the civilian noninstitutional population classified as either employed or unemployed. (See the definitions below)
    Employed persons. These are all persons who, during the reference week (the week including the 12th day of the month), (a) did any work as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of their family, or (b) were not working but who had jobs from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job.
    Unemployed persons. Included are all persons who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment some time during the 4 week-period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.
    Unemployment rate. The ratio of unemployed to the civilian labor force expressed as a percent [i.e., 100 times (unemployed/labor force)].”

    The State of Maryland does not include any unemployed worker who has received more than 47 weeks of extended unemployment benefits. In the absence of an accounting for these individuals, the unemployment rate for the State of Maryland as used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cannot be accurate and has resulted in the denial of extended unemployment compensation to those unemployed workers who would otherwise be eligible of the unemployment rate were accurate.

  29. MB says:

    Is Louisiana an extended benefit state? I moved from Arizona to Louisiana and I was told that Louisiana is not an extended benefit state so I am not eligible for unemployment – is this true?

  30. Matt says:

    @ Michelle – My MO unemployment went 78 weeks. They denied my first week because I made $96 @ one 8hr day that week and that was “excessive earnings”

    @ Your Father- I would love to take a $10 an hour job. It would pay quite a bit more than my unemployment. Where are these $10 an hour jobs you speak of? In the want ads I see CDL drivers wanted, (if you can afford to get a CDL in the first place) and nursing, if you can afford to go to school and become a nurse. But then there is that stint that you can not collect unemployment and go to school/training as it is considered fraud.

  31. Michelle says:

    What health insurance? All I have is bills just like any one else. That includes medical. We no longer have children at home. They get free medical, we get nothing. My job only paid $10 a hour that I lost. It wet to Canada, nice right. I just wish people would actually do a better job of educating themselves, before they open their mouth at least. We are in our late 50’s, not what most employers are looking for these days. I’ve worked since I was 13, spit out that silver spoon and look arounda little.

  32. Your Father says:

    ** ALL ** There is no shame in taking a job for $10/hour. It won’t pay as much as unemployment, especially when you consider that you’re getting free health insurance on unemployment and will not be getting it while making $10/hour as a cashier, retail clerk, waiter, etc. Work for less money, get off your a**, make something of yourself, and, in the process, you’ll feel better about how you view yourself while making the US strong again. Earn the legacy that your parents’ generation left for you!

    • Franklin says:

      Sorry dad, nice speach but people will collect any/all until there isn’t anything offered. It has become the american way… pride/shame isn’t an issue anymore, times have changed. It’s not right or fair, but sadly it is the truth.

  33. Michelle says:

    What ? You say Missouri has 79 weeks of unemployment. Please explain why I am looking at my printout right now, and only got 60. I got 26 weeks, then 20, then 14. I’m out they say. So how do we have 79.

  34. ken says:

    Well it figures Mississippi would be at the bottom of every catagory possible…….its so typical……it really sucks here…..stay away for your own good

  35. Carl says:

    If I move from RI (which has a good rate) to AZ, which pays less tha half as much, do I continue to receive RI’s rate?

  36. […] If you need more details about the unemployment benefits comparison by state, then you can refer to Ohio State Unemployment benefits guide. […]

  37. Mary Anne says:

    Does anyone know if NJ reduces unemployment benefits for paople collecting social security? They are still taking deductions out of my paycheck.

  38. Linda says:

    Does anyone know when Virginia is sending the authorization or new pin# to receive the extension benefits? I received notice several weeks ago that they were updating the system but nothing since then. Also, do I need to submit before Dec 31 to be eligible?

  39. John says:

    The PDF document at the URL I provided immediately above has a chart of federal UI extensions by state. It’s on page 4.

    Here’s that URL again:

    In addition to the federal extensions, each state provides up to 26 weeks of regular benefits, before the extended benefits kick in. In addition, a few states have provided their own state-funded extensions, on top of the federal extensions.

  40. John says:

    Barbara, I just found unemployment figures by state, current as of September 2009 at: http://www.nelp.org/page/-/UI/PR.Oct09.Jobs.pdf?nocdn=1

    Maryland’s unemployment rate: 7.2%
    District of Columbia’s unemployment rate: 11%

    If you look over the various links I’ve already posted, you’ll see that states that have less than 8.5% unemployment do not qualify for the maximum number of weeks of UI. DC is well past that 8.5% point, which is why people whose earnings came from DC are eligible for longer UI extensions.

  41. John says:

    Here is a direct link to NELP’s Unemployment Insurance webpage:


  42. John says:

    NELP has an eleven page document, arguing for rreauthorization of the ARRA act. It explains what EUC and EB are:


  43. John says:

    Barbara, the length of unemployment extensions vary by state in large part because of the percentage of unemployment in a given state. Maryland’s unemployment rate must be different than the unemployment rate in the District of Columbia.

    For those who are wondering what EUC Tier I, II, III, IV and what Extended Benefits are, see the National Employment Law Project’s website. You will have to poke around, but worth the effort. Also, each state probably has at least a little bit of explanation on the Unemployment Insurance webpages. The quality of those state webpages are likely to vary quite a bit.

    NELP is probably the organization that does the most (and most effective) lobbying for unemployed people. Good people.


  44. Bob says:

    Live in NJ. Received 1 week tier II and 13 weeks tier III. I thought NJ was getting a 20 week extension as of Nov 09. Anyone know why?

  45. Risa says:

    Can Someone explain EUC TIER I, II,& III I’m trying to see where I fit into all of this.

  46. Ray says:

    Henry – NY state currently allows26 weeks of regular benefits and an additional 53 weeks of emergency/extended benefits. Check state’s website – http://www.labor.state.ny.us/ui/claimantinfo/ExtendedBenefits.shtm

  47. Henry says:

    I don’t know where these stat’s come from; but they all look bogus. I’m in NY and the UI benefit’s only last 26 weeks, not 72 like it is stated in the list.

  48. t says:

    I’m trying to figure out how many total weeks you get in VA too. See this link:
    This article from September says Virginia has extended to 72 weeks. Unfortunately the Virginia unemployment website is not very clear. I know for sure there is 26 weeks regular UI, and Virginia has also triggered on EUC Tier II becuase the unemployment rate is more than 6%, which means you get 13 weeks EUC Tier I(emergency unemployment compensation), 7 weeks EUC Tier II, and then I think Virginia also has extended benefits (EB), but I’m not sure how many weeks of that are available. May be 26, that would equal 72 total.

  49. Jeffery Fields says:

    I see that in the state of Virginia, the max amount of weeks to draw is 72?????????? Is this a true statement?? I am currently unemployed and when I saw this, I was shocked. Can someone post a comment and tell me if this is true???

  50. Barbara Hawkes says:

    What is going on with my state Maryland? D.C. is close to Maryland and yet we do not have an extension of 79 weeks. Would it be fair to say that the congress take care of their own. D.C. per capita has a higher earning bracket yet we in Maryland are left to suffer with our unemployment ending…. What makes D.C. better than us!!!!!!!!

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