How to File for Unemployment In Every State

Luis Mora stands in front of the offices of the New York State Department of Labor in New York City in May 2020. For unemployed Americans, getting benefits they are entitled to starts with their state unemployment office. Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
Luis Mora stands in front of the offices of the New York State Department of Labor in New York City in May 2020. For unemployed Americans, getting benefits they are entitled to starts with their state unemployment office.

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The federal government has played an unprecedented role in propping up the unemployment insurance program over the past year. 

But for Americans who’ve lost their jobs — many thanks to the pandemic — the process still runs through the state unemployment office where they live. And while the unemployment rate is dropping, new claims continue to be filed and millions more have already crossed the line into long-term unemployment.

Every state operates differently, so what works for some Americans to get benefits they are owed doesn’t for others. Some unemployed workers decide the hassle of navigating their state system isn’t worth the benefits they could qualify for, leaving money on the table that could help when times are tough.

While every state runs its own unemployment insurance program, several national programs enacted over the past year have provided extra support. 

Most recently, the American Rescue Plan extended key federal unemployment insurance programs and an extra $300 per week in unemployment pay until Sept. 6, 2021. These federal programs include the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA)

The PEUC program provides for states to extend benefits to people who have already used up their maximum available state benefits, while the PUA program allows workers who wouldn’t normally qualify for unemployment — like self-employed and gig workers — to collect benefits. But it all still starts with your state unemployment office.

Whether you’re filing for the first time, or trying to stay on top of previously filed claims, we’ve put together the information you need to get in touch with your state unemployment office, and help make your claims go as smoothly as possible:

What Do You Need to File for Unemployment?

You’ll need some basic personal and work history information to file for unemployment. While individual states might vary in what is required to file for unemployment benefits, the following documents/information are standard: 

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license or state ID
  • Detailed employment history from the past 18 months (company/employer name, address, start/end dates, total number of days/hours worked)

Gathering and preparing this information before you file will save you time and make it simpler to file your claim. If you are filing by phone, it’s even more important to get this information ready ahead of time — along with anything else your state requires — as state unemployment offices can be difficult to reach via phone.

How to File for Unemployment In Every State

State unemployment office websites can be old and difficult to navigate, so we tried to find the most applicable links and phone numbers for people looking to file a new unemployment claim or check on an existing one. 

Use this information as a starting point to find the information you need for your state, but you’ll likely benefit from some additional reading and research about your state’s unemployment insurance processes before you file. For example, some states will automatically apply extra federal unemployment benefits according to individual eligibility, while other states require people to file separate claims for the different extra benefits. 

Unemployment offices have been overwhelmed by new claims over the past year, and a common theme from our reporting is how you’ll need to be your own biggest advocate in pursuing benefits you are eligible for. If you have trouble reaching someone to help file or check on an existing unemployment claim, consider checking Facebook, Reddit, and other social media sites for groups and communities of unemployed workers where tips about getting through to local offices are shared.

Here are the best links and phone numbers we could find to file and check on unemployment claims. Many of these phone numbers, and even some online filing applications, are only available during normal weekday business hours. Some states recommend different methods for filing or checking on existing claims, so start there, when applicable.

AlabamaKentuckyOhio
AlaskaLouisianaOklahoma
ArizonaMaineOregon
ArkansasMarylandPennsylvania
CaliforniaMassachusettsPuerto Rico
ColoradoMichiganRhode Island
ConnecticutMinnesotaSouth Carolina
DelawareMississippiSouth Dakota
District of ColumbiaMissouriTennessee
FloridaMontanaTexas
GeorgiaNebraskaU.S. Virgin Islands
GuamNevadaUtah
HawaiiNew HampshireVermont
IdahoNew JerseyVirginia
IllinoisNew MexicoWashington
IndianaNew YorkWest Virginia
IowaNorth CarolinaWisconsin
KansasNorth DakotaWyoming

Alabama

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Alaska

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Arizona

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Arkansas

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California

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Colorado

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Connecticut

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Delaware

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District of Columbia

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Florida

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Georgia

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Guam

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Hawaii

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Idaho

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Illinois

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Indiana

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Iowa

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Kansas

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Kentucky

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Louisiana

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Maine

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Maryland

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Massachusetts

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Michigan

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Minnesota

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Mississippi

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Missouri

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Montana

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Nebraska

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Nevada

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New Hampshire

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New Jersey

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New Mexico

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New York

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North Carolina

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North Dakota

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Ohio

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Oklahoma

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Oregon

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Pennsylvania

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Puerto Rico

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Rhode Island

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South Carolina

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South Dakota

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Tennessee

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Texas

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U.S. Virgin Islands

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Utah

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Vermont

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Virginia

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Washington

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West Virginia

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Wisconsin

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Wyoming

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Other Unemployment and Relief Resources

We’ve covered unemployment and other aspects of economic challenges faced by Americans since the pandemic began. Here are some of our past stories that contain information that may be helpful if you’re filing for unemployment:

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