Can You Collect Unemployment From a Part-Time Job?

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The stress of losing a job can seem overwhelming. Just as there are measures you can take to maintain your mental and emotional health, unemployment benefits can provide relief from the financial burden of losing your livelihood and stability while you look for work and get back on your feet.

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We often think that unemployment insurance (UI) caters primarily to unlucky workers who have lost permanent full-time positions. Still, there are many states that take a loss of part-time work into consideration when deciding eligibility and benefit payments.   

Partial unemployment benefits are typically sought by workers who have lost part-time jobs or have had full-time hours cut by an employer. As The Balance Careers explains, partial unemployment benefits vary from state to state but you must be actively looking for work during your unemployment period and, with few exceptions, must be unemployed through no fault of your own to meet unemployment insurance eligibility requirements.

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To calculate the total amount of your partial benefits, your state unemployment office will examine your work history. According to, most states look back 15 months to the day you file your unemployment claim and tally the wages you earned in the two three-month quarters during that time period when you made the most in earnings.

State unemployment offices will also verify if you meet the state minimum earnings or hours requirements and any time-of-employment rules that factor into their eligibility rules and formula. But, again, every state does differently when it comes to eligibility and calculating unemployment benefits.

In New York, for example, unemployed claimants — whether former full-time or part-time workers — must meet three applicant qualifications to receive unemployment:

  1. Former employees must have worked and been paid wages in at least two calendar quarters by companies with unemployment insurance.
  2. Past workers must have been paid at least $1,900 in one calendar quarter.
  3. New York residents’ total wages paid must be at least 1.5 times the amount paid in their highest paid quarter.

In Washington, you must have worked, at least partially, in the state in the last 18 months and must have worked at least 680 hours in your “base year” (the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters), per the Washington State Employment Security Department.

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Every state has different rules and they might be more complicated than you expect. If you are a long-term, full-time worker who has suddenly found yourself out of work, you will probably meet most state’s eligibility requirements quite easily. For part-time workers out of a job, unemployment eligibility requirements might be harder to achieve depending on your state’s rules.

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Even if you have met the guidelines to receive partial unemployment benefits as detailed on your state’s unemployment website, Indeed notes that it’s a good idea to explore additional state resources and speak with a representative if you have questions.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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