How to Determine Your Monthly Salary for Unemployment

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Unemployment insurance provides a safety net for those who lose their jobs.
Unemployment insurance provides a safety net for those who lose their jobs. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

If you are unemployed, the amount of compensation you will receive each month depends on several factors, such as your previous wages, how long you worked before applying for benefits and the particular unemployment insurance law of your state. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment benefits are, in general, determined by your wages over the 52-week period before you apply for benefits. However, the exact formula used to calculate your particular benefits varies from state to state.

Things You'll Need

  • Wage records
  • Calculator
  • State weekly benefit amount formula

Calculate your base year. A base year is a 12-month period that includes the first four quarters of the last five completed quarters figured from the time you file for unemployment. For instance, if you lose your job on November 2, your base year will range from October 1 of the previous year to September 30 of the current year.

Add up the gross wages you earned during the two quarters when you received the most income, then divide this figure by two. For example, if you earned $3,000 and $7,000 in those two quarters, your result would be $5,000.

Multiply the result of step 2 by a state-specific figure to calculate how much you will receive every week. This figure is 0.0385 in the state of Washington, for example, while it is 0.41 in Michigan. Thus, if you are a resident of Seattle who earned $10,000 in the two quarters where you earned the most income, you would receive $5,000 times 0.0385, or $192.50. If you live in Detroit, you would receive $205.

Calculate your monthly benefit once you know your weekly benefit, using this formula. Divide 52 weeks in a year by 12 months to calculate the duration in weeks of an average month. The result is 4.33. Multiply your weekly allowance by 4.33. This is your average monthly unemployment insurance salary. To illustrate, if your weekly allowance is $192.50, your average monthly unemployment insurance salary will be $833.52.

Tips & Warnings

  • Note the maximum weekly allowance varies from state to state. For instance, in Texas the maximum is $415 while in Washington it is $583.

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