Unemployment Laws by State
and OTHER Helpful Resources
to Understand Them

If you think I know something about unemployment law that you don't, let me tell you how I I didn't learn about it. 

It sure wasn't training provided by my cost control employer .. unless you consider osmosis via years of redundancy a viable training method.

That was a problem for someone like me who actually likes to know I know what I'm talking about.   Especially, when my job duties  include answering questions from picky clients who had no compunctions about complaining about the service, or the answesr I gave them when they plunked me down in that cubicle without nary an instruction. book. 

Comparing  Unemployment Laws  is quite  revealing.

At least i think comparing is more revealing than simply reading State Employment Security Acts . (I.e., UI laws).

The Social Security Act of 1935 was the beginning of Unemployment Insurance as we know it today.

Although this country was in the midst of recovering from the great depression, the purpose of unemployment insurance benefits wasn't then, nor has it ever been intended to be an entitlement to charity, or to be used as a subsidy to pursue your educational dreams.

It's what stabilizes an economy during a recovery.

We've had plenty of recessions over the years, but even the one in the eighties (I  remeber it because I was in my twenties and our house lost all it's equity overnight) cannot compare to what began as in 2006.  I know, it's not the official date .. but you should of seen the pile of hearings mounting in my cubicle right before i went out on FML.

We now likely, have a whole slew of people who probably think long term extensions have always been the norm during a recession. when I know long term anything in terms of unemployment is  unprecedented .. at least since the great depression.

What else that may be unprecedented is the amount of substantive changes to unemployment laws.

On one hand millions in stimulus money (remember that) was offered to states who would modernize their unemployment laws.

On the other hand states that accepted that stimulus money changed laws to make it more difficult to obtain benefits , or that lowered the total liability of a claim by reducing duration of benefits..

Although I could point to Missouri and Florida for reducing duration, It's New Jersey who actually changed misconduct provisions and disqualifications in the middle of a recession.  Of course, it may of been reasonable as it dropped recipiency down and on a par with most other states.

But, if comparing  state UI laws is revealing from my vantage point today. it's finding precedent decision digests that can enabled me to really  digest the reality of what goes on at unemployment hearings and you can do the same if you need to know how to help yourself represent yourself more effectively..

Believe me, it's all good stuff to know in the event you ever lose another job through no fault of your own.

The only question is .. will you have enough time to digest enough about your specific issue, before you go to an unemployment appeal hearing and  argue to the laws for benefits .. not your assumptions about what the law actually mean in the real world..

Comparing State Unemployment Laws

A favorite resource of mine to begin researching common  eligibility issues  is the State Unemployment Law Comparison Charts.

The charts are updated late each year to reflect any changes to laws on a state by state basis.

The following is a general guide to the sorts of things that may be impacting your ability to collect unemployment.

Coverage  explains state by state the types of employment that are covered under the FUTA  and discusses what is left up to the discretion of a state, such as the tests that may be used at an unemployment appeal to decide whether you were an employee, or an independent contractor, not subject to unemployment taxes being paid on your earnings.

Financing   Mostly of interest to an employer because they  pay for  unemployment benefits after all.   But,  a claimant so inclined, could glean some useful information that might set them straight about the fact they haven't been paying into this system all their working life.

Monetary Entitlement   Individual state benefit dollar amount formulas and the  base period types available to a state to make sure your claim is monetarily qualified.  Also, useful for those who want to know how a weekly benefit amount is calculated.

Note: Maximum and minimum weekly benefit amounts are tied to the wage bases found in the  Financing chartbook.

Extensions and Special Programs  If you want to know why your state is no longer able to provide Federal Unemployment Extensions .. take a good look at the formula that triggers on emergency extension benefits from the federal government when congress decides not to reauthorize  extension benefits by overriding the formula.

Nonmonetary Eligibility   State by state, this chartbook details the most common issues battled over at unemployment appeal hearings where many deserving unemployed people lose a decision they could of won .. if only.. ..

Overpayments   A consequence of a denial for those who have already received some, or a lot of benefits.   Overpayment repayments come in two flavors.  Fraud and Non-Fraud (which may also carry the possibility of a wavier of repayment).

Appeals  Mostly just tables with  the deadlines, or number of days you have to appeal.

Temporary Disability Unemployment   Unless you happen to live in one of the few states offering this special type of unemployment compensation .. you likely wouldn't even know the wide guidelines allow a state to have it.

Employment Security Acts and Interpretative Unemployment  Decision Resources



Administrative Code


 Precedent Decisions
California UIBDG (good one)

CDLE Reference Library


Delaware - Do you know where




Unemployment Digest


Iowa Adjudication Guide





Maryland                                                                Decision Digest

Massachusetts                                                 DUA Service Rep Manual

Decision Digest







New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico                                         Precedents

New York                                                 Interpretation Index

North Carolina Statues          Precedent Manual

North Dakota

Ohio Statutes                             Precedent  Abstract

Oklahoma                                   Precedent Manual



Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota


Texas                                                 Precedents



Precedent Manual

Washington State

Washington DC

West Virginia

Wisconsin                                    Precedents


Many discussions in the  Q&A's  link to specific pages  in many of the resources to help explain the reasoning behind any answer or question I might of asked.

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