How Long Do You Have to Work in North Carolina to Receive Unemployment?

North Carolina offers unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are out of work for more than one week. A number of eligibility requirements must be met before a claimant can be approved for unemployment insurance benefits. One important qualifying factor is the wages earned during the base period. The amount of weekly benefits and duration of benefits will depend on the wages earned by the claimant during the base period.


General Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits in North Carolina is based on a few general requirements. The claimant must be unemployed through no fault of her own. In addition, a claimant must register for work with the Employment Security Commission (ESC) unless she is still attached to her employer's payroll -- in the case of a temporary layoff, for example. Claimants must be available for work and must actively seek work. In most cases, actively seeking work requires the claimant to apply for work in person with at least two different employers on at least two different days each week. A weekly claim must also be filed for each week the claimant is claiming benefits.


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Base Period

In addition to the general requirements for North Carolina unemployment benefits, a claimant must have earned enough wages to qualify for benefits. The period used to determine eligibility is known as the base period and is usually the first four of the last five quarters prior to filing for benefits. A claimant must have wages in two of the base period quarters to qualify for benefits. If the claimant does not qualify, he will automatically be switched to the alternative base period which is the last four quarters before filing. The amount of wages earned in the base period will determine the amount of a claimant's benefits, as well as the length of time he is eligible to receive benefits.


Regular, Emergency and Extended Benefits

A claimant's weekly benefit amount is calculated by dividing the sum of the wages earned during the highest quarter of the base period by 26, rounded down to the next whole dollar. You must have wages in two of the base period quarters to be monetarily eligible.

Regular unemployment benefits are paid for up to 26 weeks if the claimant has enough earnings. The duration of benefits is calculated by taking the wages earned during the entire base period and dividing them by the wages earned in the highest quarter, and then multiplying that figure by 8 2/3. Emergency and extended benefits may extend the length of time that a claimant can receive benefits. The emergency and extended benefit programs have varying rules and are subject to change. A claimant should check the current status of the programs by contacting the ESC (see Resources).


How to Apply

To file a claim for North Carolina unemployment insurance, a claimant must complete the application through the ESC website (see Resources). If a claimant needs assistance with completing the application, she may visit one of the many ESC offices located throughout North Carolina (see Resources). Claimants will automatically be registered with the North Carolina JobConnector service, which helps claimants locate job opportunities (see Resources).


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