How to Calculate Unemployment in Washington State


When you become unemployed, financial information is very important in planning your new budget. Knowing the amount of unemployment makes an easier transition to a reduced, fixed income and your future planning. While looking for other employment, unemployment benefits maintain the basic financial requirements for your household. To eliminate any delay from state processing, file for unemployment as soon as possible after losing your job.

Things You'll Need

  • Previous 5 quarters gross earnings
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Calculator
  • List your gross earnings for the last five quarters of employment. The first four quarters of your last five quarters is the base year and used in this calculation.

  • Determine quarterly earnings -- quarters are always January to March, April to June, July to September and October to December of each year. For example, if you became unemployed on May 1, 2011, your quarterly earnings start with January to March 2010 quarter through January to March 2011. Do not include any earnings from the quarter you became unemployed.

  • Locate the two highest earning quarters of the base year. Add these earnings together. For example, if the earnings were $5,200 for the first quarter, $4,900 for the second quarter, $5,100 for the third quarter and $5,300 for the fourth quarter, the first and fourth quarter are the two highest earning quarters. Adding the earnings of $5,200 and $5,300 together is a total of $10,500.

  • Divide the two highest quarterly earnings by two to arrive at the average quarterly earning. In our example, the $10,500 divided by 2 is $5,250 average.

  • Multiply the average quarterly earnings by 0.0385. The result is your calculated weekly unemployment. In our example, the $5,250 multiplied by 0.0385 is a $202 weekly unemployment benefit.

  • Washington state unemployment benefit has minimum and maximum weekly benefit levels. The minimum amount is $135 a week. All who are eligible for benefits will receive at least this minimum amount. A maximum amount is also set at $570 a week. For those who apply for unemployment between March 6, 2011 and November 5, 2011, the state issued a temporary change in minimum and maximum benefit levels. During this timeframe, unemployment is by $25 a week making the minimum $160 per week and a maximum $595 per week. The actual unemployment benefits issued will still depend on past earnings in the base year.


  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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