How Does Unemployment Work?

Michael Hearing

Michael Hearing


Unemployment benefits are critical for many people today.

There is nothing normal about the times we’re living through, especially when considering the jobs market and the economy. As jobless claims climb across the nation, you may find yourself in a stressful situation and asking yourself, “How does unemployment work?”

How Does Unemployment Work and Play into the Pandemic?

Once the COVID-19 pandemic began infecting people in the United States, businesses found it difficult or impossible to continue operating normally, and this led to a rapid decline in revenue. 

To compensate for this evaporated revenue, businesses then turned to laying off workers in an attempt to reduce the financial impact. These workers found themselves in a bit of a stunned position needing to find work – which may or may not be readily available in their field – and having a way to pay their regular living expenses. 

This is where the public unemployment insurance program comes into play.

What Is the Unemployment Insurance Program?

The unemployment insurance program is a series of individual state programs that get their funding from taxpayer contributions stored in federal bank accounts. 

For part of 2020, the federal government provided additional unemployment income through the CARES Act, but all unemployment program income you could receive is otherwise sent directly from the state programs.

Apply Immediately

If you have been terminated through no fault of your own or laid off from your job, it’s important that you work quickly to get your unemployment insurance application started as soon as possible. 

You can find more detailed information by searching for your state’s unemployment program online or by contacting your local office that handles unemployment benefits. The names of these offices vary from state to state – for example, The Department of Labor, Department of Employment Security, or Department of Workforce Development. 

Do keep in mind that these offices may have modified hours of operation and limited in-person staff available to assist you. If you’re trying to fill out an unemployment application online, be prepared to encounter slow page loading times and errors. 

In some cases, individuals are finding themselves having to fill out online applications multiple times before they will submit properly. At the same time, they are dealing with an unprecedented volume of unemployment insurance applications, so do your best to create a temporary financial plan while your application is being processed.

When Do I Get Approved?

A final concern you may have is how long it takes before you find out if you have qualified for benefits and how much you have n qualified for. 

This is another answer that will be different depending on the state you live in and the responsiveness of their exact program. 

Some programs claim they can process applications in four to seven days while others notify their applicants that it could take two or three weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask your local unemployment office questions to find out everything you need to know to get through this complicated period.

Know How Unemployment Works and What it Can Do for You

When you’re dealing with financial hardship due to a change in your working circumstances, it’s good to know what options are available to you. Since getting assistance now could make a big difference for you in the long-run, it’s important that you understand how unemployment works.

Need More Reading Material?

Check out our latest post that details the best benefits of unemployment.

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