Labor and Employment

What Is Unemployment Insurance?

By Sachi Barreiro, Attorney, University of San Francisco School of Law

All states have unemployment insurance programs that provide temporary financial help to employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. These programs are administered by the state and usually funded through employer payroll taxes. To receive benefits, you must file an unemployment claim with your state’s unemployment agency.

While each state has its own rules for collecting unemployment, most follow the same basic structure. To be eligible for benefits, you must typically meet the following three requirements:

  • You must have earned a certain amount in wages or worked a certain number of hours in the year, or both.
  • You must be out of work through no fault of your own—meaning you were laid off, fired for reasons other than misconduct, or quit for a good reason.
  • You must be actively looking for work.

To read about these eligibility requirements in more detail, see our overview article on unemployment compensation.

Go back to main Unemployment Compensation FAQ page

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