Partial Unemployment Benefit


The term partial unemployment benefit refers to the ability to collect compensation if an individual is not able to secure a full time job.  Partial unemployment benefits may be available to a working individual if they are not able to work more than eighty percent of what is considered a normal workweek for their occupation.


While the exact rules for collecting this benefit will vary by state, an individual may be eligible to receive partial unemployment payments if they are unable to find full-time employment and their current compensation is under a specified threshold value.  Generally, this benefit is available to workers under the following conditions:

  • An individual must be able to work and is available for work.
  • The individual has returned to work, but their employer is not able to provide them with full-time employment due to the lack of full-time work.  Typically, this means the individual is working less than eighty percent of the normal hours for their occupation; this is sometimes referred to as being underemployed.
  • The individual continues to look for a full-time job.

Compensation in a system that provides partial unemployment benefits may be slightly higher than what would be a weekly benefit rate.  This mechanism provides an incentive for an individual to return to work.  However, earnings provided by the employer are normally subtracted from the partial unemployment rate.


Ann is entitled to a weekly unemployment benefit of $500, which is based on her earnings history.  Ann is able to find part-time employment, providing her with weekly earnings of $250.  The partial unemployment rules in Ann's state specify they will disregard the first $25 of Ann's earnings or 25% of her current wages, whichever is higher, when calculating her partial unemployment benefits.  Since 25% of $250 is greater than $25, Ann would receive the following partial unemployment payment under these rules:

= Full Unemployment Benefit + $25.00 or 25% of Part-Time Wages - Part-Time Wages
= $500.00 + (25% of $250.00) - $250.00
= $500.00 + $62.70 -$250.00
= $312.50

In the above example, Ann's total weekly compensation is now $250.00 (part-time job) + $312.50 (partial unemployment benefit), or $562.50.

Related Terms

termination benefits, one-time termination benefit, special termination benefit, constructive dischargepart-time job, phased retirement, probation, seasonal employment, technological unemployment, temporary work agency, unemployment benefit, underemployment, Extended Benefits, Emergency Unemployment Compensation