When a state is experiencing high rates of unemployment, its residents can qualify for additional weeks of unemployment insurance, half funded by the federal government, after their initial benefits have expired.
There are three ways a state can trigger extended benefits.
- All states must pay out extended benefits if their insured unemployment rateThe insured unemployment rate is the percentage of people collecting unemployment benefits out of all people who would qualify for unemployment insurance if they lost their job. for the previous 13 weeks is at least 5 percent, and it is at least 20 percent higher than the same period in the two previous years.
- Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have chosen to trigger extended benefits if their insured unemployment rate is at least 6 percent for the previous 13 weeks.
- Eleven states have opted to also trigger extended benefits when their seasonally-adjusted total unemployment rate for the previous three months is at least 6.5 percent, and is 10 percent higher than the two previous years. Those states trigger an additional seven weeks of benefits on top of the extended benefits when their seasonally-adjusted total unemployment rate for the previous three months is at least 8 percent, and is 10 percent higher than the two previous years.
The exact number of extra weeks of extended benefits is half of the length of regular unemployment benefits, up to 13 weeks. In most states, regular unemployment benefits last 26 weeks, but they can be as short as 12 weeks in Florida and North Carolina or as long as 28 weeks in Montana and 30 weeks in Massachusetts (although it drops to 26 weeks in Massachusetts if extended benefits are in place).