When I left my last pastor position, I inquired about receiving unemployment with our state's Employment Security Commission. I was told that unemployment tax is optional for churches. If churches choose not to pay it, then unemployment benefits are not available for church personnel. I checked with my church's treasurer and he confirmed that they did not pay the unemployment tax. What this means is that if any church personnel are laid off, fired, or forced to resign, there are no government benefits available to them for unemployment.
I looked into the North Carolina Unemployment Insurance information section and found that for employers in North Carolina, the unemployment tax is 1.2% of the total payroll. If my church had provided unemployment insurance for me as their pastor, it would have cost the church $480 annually, based on my salary of $40,000. This tax rate may vary according to your state.
As someone who has learned the hard way, I highly recommend to all pastors and church staff personnel to negotiate unemployment insurance as a part of your package for your own protection. I know it will be a part of my package from now on.