Analysis: Generous vs Restrictive States in Terms of Partial Unemployment Rules

Previously, we posted this chart showing each state's partial unemployment eligibility requirements, mainly how much you are allowed to collect while on unemployment, and how much will be deducted from your benefits based on what you make. Today, we analyze which states are the most generous in terms of letting people work part time vs which states are the most restrictive.

Having generous partial unemployment rules often implies letting you make a significant amount more than your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) as well as exclude a certain portion of your earnings when subtracting from your benefit. This can encourage people to return to work if offered reduced hours, or to find part time work. Strong partial UI rules also protect employees in low wage and volatile markets such as retail and restaurants that have had their hours reduced and gives them more money in these unstable times. On the opposite end, states that are the most restrictive won't let you make a penny more than your WBA and will deduct your earnings dollar for dollar. This discourages employees from returning to work or seeking part time work, due to the loss of the UI Benefits that could occur as well as the loss of the extra weekly $600 FPUC.

So looking at the UI Partial Benefits table, we can see that Vermont and Montana have the most generous rules, letting employees earn up to twice their weekly benefit amounts. Next, come Connecticut, Delaware, and Idaho which let you earn up to 50% over your WBA amount, and close to them are Pennsylvania and Arkansas that let you earn 40% over your WBA. These states also disregard a percent of your wages - Idaho and Delaware, for example, won't deduct from your benefits anything under 50% of your WBA.

Some of the more restrictive states include Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, which have a very low maximum benefit amount (under $300) to begin with, making it virtually impossible to engage in reasonable part time work and still earn unemployment benefits. There is no incentive in those states to go back to part time work, and UI beneficiaries have to choose between returning to work and earning a significant amount less than what they earned on unemployment (if we take into account the federal $600 boost), or refusing to return to work and risk their unemployment eligibility status.

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