The Employment Security Commission of North Carolina (“NCESC”) is your gateway to job opportunities, labor and employment statistics and applying for unemployment insurance benefits.  The NCESC’s website can be found at  The website is available between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. through 12:00 midnight on Saturday and 12:00 noon and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.  The purpose of this post is to explain who can qualify for unemployment benefits through the NCESC, how much the benefit payouts will be and when you should file your unemployment insurance claim.

Qualifying For North Carolina Unemployment Payments

In order to receive unemployment benefits through you must meet several eligibility requirements.  The primary requirement is that the unemployed applicant must have earned a certain amount of income during a period of time that is known as the “Base Period.”  The Base Period is defined as the first four out of the previous five calendar quarters.  To determine your Base Period don’t count the current calendar quarter you are in at the time you apply for unemployment insurance benefits and also exclude the calendar quarter immediately before the quarter you are currently in.  Then, use the four quarters before that.

An example may help you better understand how to calculate the time period that makes up your Base Period.  If I apply for unemployment benefits on August 1, 2009, I am in the third quarter of 2009.  I disregard this current third quarter as well as the prior quarter – the 2nd one of 2009.  I then use the four quarters before them, meaning in this example that my Base Period would be comprised of the first quarter of 2009 and the fourth, third and second quarter of 2008.

In order to receive unemployment insurance payments from NCESC, you must have worked and earned income in a minimum of two calendar quarters of your Base Period and the total of the wages earned in those two quarters must equal or exceed six times the state’s average weekly insured wage.  Because North Carolina’s average weekly insured wage varies from time to time you should contact the NCESC to find out what this number currently is.

How Much Money Will I Receive?

Once you qualify for North Carolina unemployment benefits you will receive a set flat amount called your “weekly benefit amount.”  The weekly benefit amount is different for each person and is based upon the income you earned during your Base Period.  To find out your weekly benefit amount, divide the total amount of income you earned during the calendar quarter that you earned the most money during the Base Period by 26 and then round that number down to the next whole dollar.  If the number you get after performing this calculation is less than $15.00 you are ineligible for benefits because you did not earn enough income.

When Should I Apply For Benefits?

You should go to as soon as you lose your job to apply for benefits.  North Carolina unemployment benefits cannot be backdated and your failure to file a timely unemployment claim will result in you losing out on money you are otherwise entitled to receive.

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