Unemployment for Part-Time Workers?

Since the spring, employers have reduced millions of workers’ hours to save costs. This has left many people working part-time and struggling to make ends meet. If your schedule has been reduced because of the pandemic, or you lost your job, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. 

Generally, your state’s unemployment agency will offer you benefits even if you work part-time, though the amount may vary. How much you receive depends on your individual state’s guidelines and your current income.

If You Lost Your Part-Time Job

If you were employed part-time but were laid off, you can still receive benefits if the hours you worked and the money you made meet your state’s criteria. If you were a low-income worker or were only scheduled a few hours per week, you might not be eligible for unemployment. 

If you worked two or more part-time jobs, and still have one, you could receive unemployment, provided your income doesn’t exceed the minimum weekly benefit amount. As mentioned earlier, the amount you qualify for — and how long you can receive these payments — depends on your state. 

Working Part-Time

If you had a full-time job before you received unemployment but are hired for a part-time position, you could potentially keep receiving benefits. It depends on the difference in hours between your previous and current jobs. Depending on the state, the unemployment office might deduct wages you earn from your unemployment payments, while others could let you make 25% more than your weekly payments. 

If you are a temporary worker, you may not qualify for unemployment while employed, but you can apply for unemployment benefits when the position ends. 

Additional Considerations

Before the pandemic, unemployment recipients were required to show proof that they could work and looking for another job. Now, some states have lifted these rules. It’s essential to make sure your state’s regulations so you can continue to receive this important benefit during economically challenging times. You can find these rules online or by contacting the office over the phone. 

How Much Can You Work And Still Receive Unemployment?

You can receive unemployment benefits as a part-time or temporary worker. However, how much you earn from these positions can affect the size of your weekly payments. If you make more from your job than you do on unemployment, you may lose your eligibility. Either way, you should always report your income so that you don’t get charged with fraud.

Working While Receiving Unemployment

Unemployment benefits are a great way to support yourself or your family while working diminished hours. Even if you work part-time, it’s a chance to continue honing your skill set and making new connections that could lead to full-time work. 

Reporting Your Wages

Every state unemployment office mandates that recipients report their wages when they apply for unemployment benefits. The department studies these details to find out if you qualify for the full or partial unemployment amount. If you earn more in one week from your job than you receive from the government, you won’t get any payments that week. Talk to your state’s unemployment office about which income you should report. 

Benefit Reductions

Every state uses a formula to determine how much you qualify for every week. This formula helps states reduce your benefits according to how much income you earn. Some states, like Illinois, have exemptions that allow you to save a significant sum of money. For example, part-time workers can receive 50% of their regular state benefits in Illinois without a reduction. Ohio, on the other hand, only allows for 20%.

You must always report your income to the state unemployment office while you receive this benefit. Employers typically report to these agencies when they first hire you, so the government will always find out. If caught, you will likely have to repay the money, be barred from applying for unemployment for a particular time, or possibly face criminal charges. 


  • Petersen, Lainie. “How Much Can You Earn & Still Collect Unemployment?” Work, 29 June 2018, work.chron.com/much-can-earn-still-collect-unemployment-14877.html.
  • Sherman, Fraser. “Can I File for Unemployment for Being Laid Off From a Second Job?” Work, 29 June 2018, work.chron.com/can-file-unemployment-being-laid-off-second-job-16911.html.
Ian Schindler