To be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be temporarily out of work. Benefits aren't available to those who haven't been working for a while -- for example, while raising children or going to school full time. States use different methods to measure whether an applicant for unemployment has a sufficient connection to the workforce to qualify for benefits. Most states require that applicants have earned at least a minimum amount during a recent one-year period (called the "base period"). Some states require applicants to have worked at least a certain amount of time for the employer during the base period, either instead of or in addition to the earnings requirement.