Unemployment

Unemployment compensation benefits are weekly cash payment to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Unemployment compensation benefits last six months or longer, depending on economic conditions, or until workers find new work. Unemployment compensation benefits create a safety net for laid off workers and are considered one of the most efficient means of stimulating a distressed economy. Following the great recession, for example, federal stimulus  funding helped states extend unemployment compensation payments for up to 90 weeks.

The federal government created unemployment compensation benefits in 1935. Employers fund unemployment benefits through a tax on payroll. States administer unemployment compensation benefits, under guidelines established by the federal government. 

To qualify for unemployment compensation benefits or insurance, employees must typically work a certain amount of time for any employer during the year or two before their employment loss, and earn a certain amount from their most recent employment. If qualified, employees are entitled to unemployment benefits or insurance, with certain exceptions. Those exceptions, known in some states as “disqualifying reasons,” include voluntary resignations and terminations for cause. 

Unemployment compensation benefits provide some cash when needed most, but not a lot of cash. The maximum weekly unemployment insurance payment in most states is between $400 and $600.

To receive unemployment insurance, employees must be able to work and looking for work. Most states have “anti-fraud” units to prevent employees from receiving benefits when they are not eligible, and to recover benefits from employees who received benefits when they were not eligible for them.

Related Articles from around the web (250)

Unemployment Payments Are Running Out for Millions, Even As Long-Term Unemployment Surges

Texas Unemployment Law - Unemployment Overpayments

Striking Out with Unemployment Benefits: Minor League Baseball (MLB) Players Hurdle to Collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Unemployment Is Over 10%

Unemployment Q & A’s

May Unemployment Data

Latest on Unemployment

Unemployment Down in Maryland, or So it Seems

May Unemployment Report

Unemployment Rate Down to 9.7%

May Unemployment Data

Retirement and Unemployment

April Unemployment up to 8.9%

Underfunding Unemployment

June Unemployment Data

I (usually) hate unemployment challenges

Unemployment Benefits Extended Again

August Unemployment Numbers

Unemployment Rates Looking Marginally Better

Unemployment: The Economists Just Don’t Get It

Demographic Disparity in Unemployment

A Primer on Unemployment Benefits

February Unemployment Data

April Unemployment Data

Unemployment Rate Unchanged

July Unemployment Report

April Unemployment Numbers

On Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19

When Should Unemployment Benefits End?

Lobel on Unemployment Insurance

June Unemployment Figures

June Unemployment Report

November Unemployment Report

A Primer on Unemployment Benefits

April Unemployment Data

A Primer on Unemployment Benefits

Is Unemployment Discrimination Illegal?

August Unemployment Figures

May Unemployment Rate increases to 9.4%

February Unemployment Data

September Unemployment Data

Maryland Unemployment Overpayments

Unemployment Rate Declines

July Unemployment Data

Help - I was disqualified for unemployment benefits. How do I get re-qualified?

Unemployment Insurance: Must You Pay for Misconduct?

The Toll of Long-term Unemployment

How to Apply for Maryland Unemployment Insurance

Important Changes to Maryland Unemployment Law

Reducing Unemployment with Work-Sharing

Severance Pay and Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Benefits Recipients Do More, Not less, to Look for Work

Severance Pay and Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Rates Continue to Improve

Help - I was disqualified for unemployment benefits. How do I get re-qualified?

Unemployment: Why Won’t Congress Talk About It!?

Texas Unemployment Benefits Cut

Doing it Their Way: Government Layoffs Worsening Unemployment

Maryland Unemployment: Using Best Judgment is Not Misconduct

Hallmark Releases Unemployment Cards

Texas Unemployment Claims Guide

Texas Unemployment Claims Guide

At Least 30 Countries Have Unemployment Benefits More Generous Than The U.S.

Unemployment Compensation: Case Update

New Unemployment Bill to Provide Relief

Bunning Spikes Unemployment Extension

New Case on Unemployment Hearing Proof

Mass Unemployment Is a Failure of Capitalism

Important Changes to Maryland Unemployment Law

Maryland Unemployment Benefits Extended

Unemployment Insurance Contributions to Rise

UNEMPLOYMENT IS DROPPING IN CALIFORNIA AND AROUND THE COUNTRY

The Rise in Entrepreneurship Often a Mask for Unemployment

14 Senators Urge Unemployment Extension

In The News: Unemployment Rate Study

How to Apply for Maryland Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Benefits Extension Bill Stalls Yet Again

Consult an Attorney if You Have an In-Person Unemployment Hearing

New unemployment claims rose by 1.9 million last week

Unemployment claims jump back over 1 million

Terminated for Absenteeism? You May Still Be Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

NYT Has 411 on Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Maximum Unemployment Benefit Rate Has Risen

End of Unemployment Benefits Hitting Workers

I’m not in Kansas anymore … or ever (an unemployment fraud story)

Senate Votes to Proceed with Unemployment Bill

U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent in August

Unemployment drops in May to 13.3 percent as states reopen

Coronavirus Update 4-6-2020: We CARES about unemployment

Unemployment Rates Affect Veterans Disproportionately

Black Unemployment Has Topped 10 Percent For Most Of The Last 50 Years

COVID-19 Unemployment Assistance for Independent Contractors

Feds Deliver Unemployment Funds to Maryland

Important Changes to Florida's Unemployment Compensation Law

Unemployment Maximum Benefit will Rise on Monday

Tell Speaker Boehner to Allow a Vote on Unemployment Insurance

Texas Employers Unemployment Rate Headed Up

Consult an Attorney if You Have an In-Person Unemployment Hearing

Economic Policy and Unemployment: The Power of Stupidity

Long-Term Unemployment: A Terrifying Existence

Restaurants’ bailout problem: Unemployment pays more

Unemployment Benefits Protect Seasonal Workers

How Cuts to Unemployment Benefits Will Hurt Rural People

U.S. added 559,000 jobs in May and unemployment dropped to 5.8%

Overcoming Inequality in Unemployment Benefit Access and Utilization

Coronavirus Update 3-10-2021: John Oliver on unemployment

Initial Unemployment Claims Rise to 380,000

Florida Leads Race to the Bottom on Unemployment Compensation

How Long-Term Unemployment Decreases Life Expectancy

Unemployment Systems Floundering Without Worker-Centered Design

Workers filed 1.5M unemployment claims as infections spike

Unemployment Gap Between Rich and Poor at Record Levels in the U.S.

Unemployment Gap Between Rich and Poor at Record Levels in the U.S.

Bill Would Prohibit Employment Discrimination Based on Unemployment

Texas to Begin Drug Testing Applicants for Unemployment

Know Your Rights to Paid Leave and Unemployment During the COVID-19 Crisis

Millions of gig workers are still waiting for unemployment benefits

Unemployment Fraud Rate is Low, Study Finds

Unemployment situation is improving for some groups and not others, and you’ll never guess who

Coronavirus Update 8-30-21: Vaccine mandates and unemployment compensation

Maryland Misclassification Cases Often Start with a Claim for Unemployment

A gap in federal unemployment benefits is now unavoidable. Here’s why.

New unemployment claims fall below 1 million for the first time in five months

Maryland Misclassification Cases Often Start with a Claim for Unemployment

Unemployment Benefits Bill Ready for Obama's Signature

On the Path to Economic Recovery: Extended Unemployment Benefits

Texas Unemployment Law - Staff Leasing Companies

Cameron County had Texas' worst unemployment in March

You May Be Entitled to Unemployment If You Quit With Good Cause for Health Reasons.

Global Youth Unemployment Reaches Record Levels

Cameron County had Texas' worst unemployment in March

Long-term Unemployment in African-American Community

Bill Would Ban Discrimination Based on Unemployment Status

EEOC Holds Public Hearing on Unemployment Discrimination

You May Be Entitled to Unemployment If You Quit With Good Cause for Health Reasons.

COBRA Subsidy, Unemployment Benefits Extended to June

Unemployment Extension Bill Clears Senate Hurdle

Unemployment Benefits Extension Bill Stalls in Senate

Florida Unemployment Compensation Law Has Become More “Employer Friendly”

Rise in Unemployment Negatively Correlated With Support for Unions

Rise in Unemployment Negatively Correlated With Support for Unions

Two Months of Extended Unemployment Insurance Passes Congress

House Approves Measure Extending Unemployment Benefits

More Than a Number: Troubling Trends Behind the Dropping Unemployment Rateo

Involuntary Part-Timers Would Boost the Unemployment Rate

Is Severance Pay Deducted from Unemployment Benefits in Maryland?

NEW REPORT PROPOSES CRITICAL UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE POLICY REFORMS

Surge in Women’s Employment Brings Unemployment Rate Down to 9.7 Percent

Unemployment claims rise by 2.4 million as states try to open for business

OVER 218,000 GEORGIANS TO LOSE ALL UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE WITHIN DAYS

Coronavirus layoffs surge across America, overwhelming unemployment offices

Economy Loses 20.5 Million Jobs in April; Unemployment Jumps to 14.7%

Compromise Bill Extending COBRA, Unemployment Benefits Introduced

Unemployment claims near 17 million in three weeks as coronavirus ravages economy

Labor Department reports 36.5 million unemployment claims over 2 months

Mounting unemployment crisis fuels racial wealth gap

Unemployment claims climbed by 1.5 million last week, despite jobs gains in May

Unemployment is sky-high for young workers in the COVID-19 economy

Severance Pay can reduce Ohio Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Black workers are hurt most as Congress doesn’t extend unemployment

Economy Gains 1.8 Million Jobs in June; Unemployment Declines to 10.2%

South Florida AFL-CIO Rallies for Unemployment Insurance

New unemployment claims rose last week to 1.4M, ending months of declines

‘We’re already too late’: Unemployment lifeline to lapse even with an aid deal

Obama Signs Unemployment Insurance Extension Bill into Law

In Record Numbers, Employers Move to Block Unemployment Payouts

Economy Gains 4.8 Million Jobs in June; Unemployment Declines to 11.1%

A lack of child care is keeping women on unemployment rolls

House Passes Jobs Bill Containing COBRA, Unemployment Extensions

Economy Gains 379,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment Down to 6.2%

House Passes Jobs Bill Containing COBRA, Unemployment Extensions

288,000 New Jobs Drop Unemployment Rate to 6.3% in April

Who should have to pay back overpaid Unemployment Benefits in North Carolina?

New York Unemployment Benefits No Longer Available to Former Employees Receiving Severance

EDD Will Deny Unemployment Benefits to Claimants Not Authorized to Work in US

African-American Unemployment Rate Was ‘Virtually Unchanged’ In 2011

Federal Unemployment Benefits Expire Due To Congressional Inaction

New Regulations Offer Higher Likelihood of Representation at Unemployment Hearings

Texas Unemployment Law - How Temporary Work Affects Your Benefits

CHART: The Federal Reserve Is Failing Its Obligation To Fight Unemployment

Department of Labor Tries to Leverage Social Media to Solve Unemployment

Are Workers ‘Sacrificial Lambs’ For Indiana’s Unemployment Fund Deficit?

San Antonio May Unemployment Numbers Send a Mixed Message

Senators Introduce Unemployment Benefits Extension Bill that Would Apply to All 50 States

Fed’s Powell warns unemployment could reach Depression-level 25 percent

2.1 million new unemployment claims filed last week, as workers still struggle to get benefits

House Passes Bill Imposing Regulatory Moratorium until Unemployment Drops

House Passes Defense Bill Containing Arbitration, Unemployment and COBRA Provisions

Surprise unemployment drop sparks debate over how fast the economy will rally

Proposed Senate Bill Would Void Non-Competes For Employees Eligible for Unemployment

Tax breaks for businesses led to state unemployment funds going broke

Unemployment (or prior lawsuits) as a protected class? Not so fast says the 6th Circuit

Extended Emergency Unemployment Compensation Will Expire for 2.1 Million Recipients on December 29

Trump administration wants states to zip their lips about soaring unemployment numbers

House Passes Bill Temporarily Extending COBRA, Unemployment Benefits

Why Maryland Employment Lawyers Are Reluctant to Represent Claimants in Unemployment Hearings.

Obama Signs Bill Temporarily Extending COBRA, Unemployment Benefits

House Passes Defense Bill Containing Arbitration, Unemployment and COBRA Provisions

Court of Appeal: Lying on Timesheets re Break Time is Misconduct: No Unemployment for You

Best Practices for Handling Unemployment Compensation Claims Part 2: The Referee's Hearing

Economy Adds 243,000 Jobs, Unemployment Drops to 8.3 Percent

New Maryland Law Protects Unemployment Benefits for Victims of Domestic Violence

‘A meaningful hit to the economy’: What could happen if Congress cuts unemployment benefits

Trade war drives up unemployment in key 2020 battleground states

Economy Gains 266,000 Jobs in November; Unemployment Down Slightly to 3.5%

Court Upholds New Jersey’s Ban on Unemployment Discrimination in Job Advertisements

Unemployment Money Chaos Redux?; Clawing Back Dough From the Rich

Employee Who is Repeatedly Found Sleeping on the Job Entitled to Unemployment Compensation

What amount of unemployment tax does a Maryland Employer pay for each employee in a year?

Texas Workforce Commission Issues 2011 Unemployment Tax Rates

Economy Loses 701,000 Jobs in March; Unemployment Jumps to 4.4%

Congress Moves to Extend Unemployment Insurance to Hard-Hit States

Economy Loses 140,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment Remains at 6.7%

Big support for $600 unemployment benefit, but people don’t know who to blame for its lapse

One Way to Boost Workers and the Labor Movement? Give Unions Power Over Unemployment Insurance.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Reform Law Expected to Result in Savings for Employers

San Antonio Unemployment Rate Drops As Local Businesses Start Hiring Again

Maine governor faces call for investigation on pressure to deny unemployment benefits

San Antonio Unemployment Rate Drops As Local Businesses Start Hiring Again

Coronavirus Update 4-27-2020: Bringing your employees back to work when unemployment pays them more than you do

House, Senate Approve Payroll Tax Cut, Unemployment Insurance Extension

Furloughed Disney Workers “Can’t Wait” For Help, But Florida’s Unemployment System Is Broken

Workplace bullying targets winning unemployment benefits appeals in New York State

Coronavirus Update 7-30-2020: Ohio needs to fix its unemployment system, 𝗻𝗼𝘄

House Passes Bill Extending Emergency Unemployment Benefits, Payroll Tax Reduction

Senate Advances Tax Bill Extending Unemployment Benefits, Decreasing Payroll Taxes

Failure to Pay Union Dues is Willful Misconduct under Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law

Recent Amendments to Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law Include Severance Pay Offset

Unemployment insurance boost is tiny next to tax cuts for the rich, this week in the war on workers

Two Million Americans Could Lose Unemployment Insurance In December If Congress Fails To Extend Program

Senate Votes to Advance Bill Further Extending COBRA Subsidy and Emergency Unemployment Insurance Programs

Studies: Increasing The Minimum Wage During Times Of High Unemployment Doesn’t Hurt Job Growth

Company is closing its doors in Maryland. I am being laid off. I will receive a small severance. Can I collect unemployment? - Avvo.com

Coronavirus Update 4-9-2021: Income tax season has exacerbated the ongoing Covid plague of unemployment fraud

Best Practices for Handling Unemployment Compensation Claims Part 3: Appeals, Legal Counsel, & Quarterly Reports

REMINDER: Severance Pay Offset to Unemployment Compensation Benefits Takes Effect January 1, 2012 In Pennsylvania

Coronavirus Update 1-25-2021: President Biden calls for unemployment benefits to employees who refuse to work because of Covid

Draft Senate Jobs Bill Contains Employer Hiring Incentives, COBRA and Unemployment Extensions, Pension Funding Relief

Coronavirus Update 6–22–2020: Ohio ends unemployment benefits to employees who refuse to work (with some key exceptions)

Unemployment Compensation Case Update: Employees Who Accept Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Offers Are Eligible for Benefits

Floridas 2019 Legislative Session Yields Bills Related to Vaping in the Workplace and Unemployment Benefits for Domestic Violence Victims

Labor Secretary Scalia Wrongly Rejects Federal Role in Enforcing Unemployment Rights of Workers Who Refuse Unsafe Work

Jobs Report: Despite Job Growth, as Benefit Cliff Approaches, Renewing and Reforming Unemployment Insurance Is an Urgent Racial Justice Matter

Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Employee Is Disqualified From Benefits Because of Repeated Tardiness

Unemployment claims worse than expected as nation hits 14th week with more than 1 million claims

A Decade of High Unemployment & Falling Wages… Or We Could Create Jobs & Help our Cities

Obama to Sign Tax Bill Temporarily Extending Unemployment Benefits, Payroll Tax Cuts

Best Practices for Handling Unemployment Compensation Claims Part 1: Responding to the Initial UC Claim and Appealing the Initial Determination

Soldiers Fight for America, They Shouldn’t Have to Fight for a Job: The Internet and Tax Incentives Seek to Stem the Tide of Veteran Unemployment

HISTORIC FIX TO NEW YORK’S PART-TIME UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM A WIN FOR WORKERS; BOOSTS NEW YORK’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY BY ENCOURAGING RETURN TO WORK

Have an Employment Law question?

Virginia Employment Lawyers

Matthew Kaplan Matthew Kaplan
The Kaplan Law Firm
ARLINGTON, VA
Matthew Sutter Matthew Sutter
Sutter & Terpak, PLLC
Annandale, VA
Sheri Abrams Sheri Abrams
Sheri R. Abrams PLLC
Oakton, VA
Gerald Lutkenhaus Gerald Lutkenhaus
Virginia Workers Compensation & Disability Lawyer
Richmond, VA
Edward Lowry Edward Lowry
MichieHamlett
Charlottesville, VA

more Virginia Employment Lawyers