How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits in North Carolina

Applying for Unemployment in Charlotte, or Anywhere Else in the State of NC

How to File For Unemployment Benefits in North Carolina
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Filing for unemployment benefits can be difficult because it means that you're probably going through a difficult time in your life. Piles of confusing paperwork only make things more difficult. Fortunately, there is a way to make filing for unemployment benefits in North Carolina a little easier. There are three basic steps you'll need to take to receive NC unemployment benefits.

  • Register for work with DES
  • File a claim for each calendar week of benefits you request
  • Actively seek out work during any week for which unemployment benefits are claimed.

The last step is the one that can confuse people the most. What does "actively seeking work" really mean? The NC ESC defines that at "doing those things that an unemployed person who wants to work would normally do." You will need to look for work in person on at least two different days with at least two different employers and keep a written record your search for a periodic review.

How Much Will I Receive for North Carolina Unemployment Benefits?

North Carolina computes unemployment benefits by taking a portion of your wages in the highest quarter of the last 16 months and dividing it by 26. For example, say that during the past year at your job, you earned $6,000 during the highest quarter. Dividing that by 26, your weekly benefit would be $230. You can receive benefits directly deposited to your account, or via a debit card.

How Long Do I Have to Work to Qualify for Unemployment in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Employment Security Commission has what's called a “base period” to determine eligibility for unemployment benefits. Usually, this means someone must work the first four of the last five calendar quarters. If you worked for at least the first 12 months out of the last 16, you're eligible.

Can I Be Denied Unemployment Benefits in North Carolina?

You certainly can, and there are a number of reasons. As mentioned above, if you quit your job voluntarily, you won't receive benefits. Also, you will most likely be denied if you were fired for violation of company policy or misconduct, you have very limited hours you can work, if you are not eligible to work in the United States, or if you were involved in a strike.

Can I Receive North Carolina Unemployment If I Quit My Job?

This is probably the most common question about unemployment benefits in NC. In short, the best answer to this question is no. The NC ESC says that applicants must be unemployed "through no fault of their own." That means that if you voluntarily left a job, you can't receive unemployment benefits.

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on North Carolina Unemployment Benefits?

You will have to pay both federal and state taxes. You're actually given the choice to have taxes withdrawn each week to avoid having to pay a large amount later. There is a certain amount that's not taxed, though.

Also, remember that it's a good idea to start the process as soon as you can. Like most states, North Carolina has a "waiting week" - the first week of unemployment where you'll receive no benefits.

When you apply, be sure to have on hand your dates of previous employment, and the pay you earned at that job.
If you need further help, call the North Carolina Unemployment Security Commission at 1-888-737-0259, or visit their website at

Click here to begin the application process for North Carolina unemployment benefits.

Also, if you need to contact someone in person, here's the address and phone number for the Charlotte office:

5601 Executive Center Drive
Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28212

Office Hours:
Mon to Fri
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Phone: 704-566-2870
Jobs Line: 800-768-5627
Fax: 704-566-2856