The States Offering The Most and Fewest Weeks of Unemployment (Where Does Yours Stand?)

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We rank the states with the fastest and slowest paths from pink slip to paycheck.
Updated Jan. 18, 2024
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Getting unemployment benefits can be an important part of your process to look for another job. It gives you money to help pay your bills so you can focus on the next step in your career.

However, some states are better than others when providing unemployment benefits. So, how does your state stack up? 

Check out these states to see how long you can receive benefits.

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Florida

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe beautiful tampa florida skyline at sunset

Florida is one of three states that offer the fewest benefits, with only 12 weeks of unemployment for workers.

On the positive, the state allows furloughed employees, self-employed workers, or independent contractors to file for unemployment, which can help supplement your income if you live there compared to other states.

Kentucky

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe louisville kentucky skyline on ohio river

Kentucky is also one of the three states with only 12 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The state is currently in the top 10 states with the highest unemployment rate, with a 4.1% rate.

North Carolina

Kevin Ruck/Adobe charlotte north carolina skyline during day

North Carolina also only offers 12 weeks of unemployment for residents.

However, the state adjusts the number of weeks based on the unemployment rate in North Carolina. The actual number of weeks can vary from 12 to 20 depending on the rate, which currently sits at 3.4% for the state.

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Alabama

allard1/Adobe welcome to sweet home alabama sign

Alabama currently offers 14 weeks of unemployment benefits for residents.

You can increase the number of weeks you’re eligible if you participate in a state-approved training program. Check with Alabama when you apply for unemployment benefits to see if you can add another five weeks of potential benefits.

Arkansas

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe little rock arkansas skyline at sunset

Arkansas provides 16 weeks of unemployment benefits for residents of the state.

But the state also has an unemployment rate of 2.9%, which puts it in the bottom half of states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s also lower than the national unemployment rate of 3.7%.

Iowa

pabrady63/Adobe busy des moines iowa city skyline

Iowa provides residents with 16 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The state offered residents 26 weeks of benefits until changes were made in the law in 2022. 

One of the reasons cited by the governor was a shortage of workers compared to open job positions in the state with the hope that fewer weeks would get workers back in the workforce.

Kansas

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe kansas city missouri skyline at sunset

Kansas residents can expect a maximum of 16 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The state currently has an unemployment rate of 2.8%, which puts it in the top 15 states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Oklahoma

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe oklahoma city skyline under clear sky

Oklahoma also provides 16 weeks of maximum unemployment benefits for its residents.

And like Kansas, it has a low unemployment rate. The state currently sits at an unemployment rate of 3%.

Michigan

f11photo/Adobe downtown detroit

Michigan residents can expect a maximum number of 20 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The state bumped the number of weeks up to 26 during the COVID-19 pandemic but dropped that number back down to 20 weeks in 2021.

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Missouri

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe st louis missouri skyline at sunset

Missouri also offers its residents a maximum of 20 weeks of unemployment benefits.

The state currently faces an unemployment rate of 3%, which puts it below the national unemployment rate of 3.7%.

South Carolina

f11photo/Adobe beautiful streets of charleston south carolina

South Carolina also provides residents with 20 weeks maximum of unemployment benefits.

And like Missouri, it has a low unemployment rate of 2.9%, putting it in the bottom half of states regarding the highest unemployment rates.

Idaho

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe traffic on streets of idaho

Residents of Idaho can expect a maximum of 21 weeks of unemployment benefits.

It’s the last of the states on this list that provide less than the standard 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. 

Now, let’s look at which states offer the most weeks of unemployment benefits.

States with the most weeks of unemployment benefits

Chansom Pantip/Adobe depressed man filling unemployment form online

All the states and territories on this list provide a standard 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Five of the states and territories on this list are in the top 10 states with the highest unemployment rates in the country.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland

The District of Columbia tops the list of these states with an unemployment rate of 5%, while California has an unemployment rate of 4.7%.

On the other hand, the state with the lowest unemployment rate of all U.S. states and territories is Maryland, with just 1.7% unemployment.

More states with the most weeks of unemployment benefits

JJ Gouin/Adobe banknotes on unemployment benefits application form

These states also provide the standard 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.

  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania

Among these states are also several with low unemployment rates, with North Dakota coming in at 1.9% and South Dakota only slightly higher at 2%.

On the other end of the spectrum is Nevada, with a 5.4% unemployment rate, making it the second most unemployed state in the U.S.

Even more states with the most weeks of unemployment benefits

ymgerman/Adobe man filling unemployment benefits application form

This last group of states and territories that provide the standard 26 weeks includes Puerto Rico, which also has the highest unemployment rate of any state or territory.

The island territory has a 6% unemployment rate, higher than the national rate of 3.7%.

  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

But this group also includes Vermont, which has only 1.9% unemployment, making it less likely for residents to apply for unemployment benefits.

Winner: Montana

edb3_16/Adobe glacier lake with rocky mountain landscape

The state with the most weeks of unemployment benefits is Montana, which gives unemployed residents 28 weeks of benefits.

The state is also in the bottom 10 states when it comes to the unemployment rate, with 2.7% of residents considered unemployed and qualifying for benefits.

Bottom line

Feng Yu/Adobe unemployment phrase highlighted with pink highlighter

Unemployment benefits can be an excellent way to help you get through employment struggles until you find a new job.

It also may be a good time to review your budget and find ways to save while unemployed. Benefits can be helpful to cover expenses, but they may not completely replace your lost income.

You should also consider setting up a high-yield savings account if you’re worried about getting laid. The high-yield account can earn you extra cash in interest that you may need later on.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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