How Is New York State Unemployment Calculated?

The New York State Department of Labor provides unemployment insurance benefits to people who worked in New York but are now unemployed due to no fault of their own. As soon as you lose your job, file an unemployment claim to start getting your checks. In the meantime, perform some calculations to learn how much you can expect to receive each week.


Determine Eligibility

New York provides unemployment insurance benefits only to individuals who have earned enough wages during their base period. To find your base period, ignore your earnings in the calendar quarter during which you file your claim and the previous calendar quarter. Look at your wages during each of the four calendar quarters before that. You must have at least one quarter with wages of $1,600 or more. You must have at least two quarters with wages of any amount. The total of your earnings during the four quarters must be at least 1.5 times your earnings during the quarter when you earned the most.


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Determine High Quarter

Your weekly check amount is based on what the Department of Labor refers to as your "high quarter." This is the quarter during your base year when you earned the most in wages. In some cases, you might have earned more during the quarter between your base year and when you filed your claim. In this case, you can appeal and ask that the calculations be based on the alternate base year. Then you can use the most recent completed quarter as your high quarter.


Calculate Weekly Benefits

Divide your earnings during your high quarter by 26 to calculate your weekly unemployment insurance benefits. If your high quarter earnings were $3,575 or less, divide by 25 instead. For example, if you earned $9,000 during your high quarter, calculate $9,000/26 to find that your weekly check will be $346.15. If you earned $3,000 during your high quarter, calculate $3,000/25 to get a weekly check of $120. Your weekly check cannot exceed $405, even if your calculations give a larger number.


Adjustments to Benefits

If you receive income while you are collecting unemployment insurance benefits in New York, you must report the income. The Department of Labor will adjust your check that week to compensate for your earnings. In New York, the adjustment is not based on how much you earn but on how many days you work. Each day you work at all, even if you don't get paid for that day, you lose one-fourth of your unemployment benefits for that week. Therefore, if you work two days, multiply your benefit amount by 0.5 to calculate how much you get. If you work four or more days, you won't get a check at all that week.