Hundreds of thousands of people are being laid off by the census bureau. Whether or not they qualify for unemployment? It’s an alchemical art.
Even though federal employees are covered for unemployment insurance under the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program and you don’t even have deductions taken out to pay for it, they are bound by the eligibility rules of the state they worked in.
In Wisconsin, where I worked for the census bureau from March til August, the rules are really arcane. Now pay close attention:
Benefit amounts and eligibility are based on the first four of the last five quarters prior to the start of your claim — unless you don’t have enough wages to qualify for a claim based on that formula, in which case, you use the ‘alternate base period‘ method. The alternate period is the four most recently completed calendar quarters prior to the start of your claim, where your wages must be at least 35 times your weekly benefit rate AND your wages equal at least 4 times your weekly benefit rate outside the highest quarter.
It took four phone calls with wait times of up to 40 minutes to determine that I need to reapply in October (when the next quarter begins) to have my last quarter (July and August) considered as part of the formula.
And as my passionately-right-wing Republican, Fox-News-Network-loving Mom noted: “What are people supposed to do if they need that money to live?