From NYS Dept of Labor website - Frequently asked questions:
Q: What employment do I need in order to qualify for benefits?
A: To qualify for benefits:
You must have worked and been paid wages for employment in at least two calendar quarters in your base period;
You must have been paid at least $1600 in wages in one of the calendar quarters in your base period;
The total wages paid you in your base period must be one and a half times your high quarter wages. (For claims effective April 17, 2000 and later, we will use 22 times the maximum benefit rate as your high quarter earnings, if your earnings are higher than this amount, so that you may qualify under this requirement.)
If you meet the above requirements in the Basic base period, the Basic base period will be used to establish your claim. The Basic base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the calendar quarter in which your claim is effective.
If you do not meet the requirements in 1. above in the Basic base period, it will be determined if you qualify using the Alternate base period. If you qualify using the Alternate base period, that base period will be used to establish your claim. The Alternate base period is the last four completed calendar quarters immediately prior to the calendar quarter in which your claim is effective.
If you qualify under the Basic base period but you think using the Alternate base period would result in a higher benefit rate, you may apply within 10 days from the date of the initial monetary notice to have your rate recalculated using the alternate base period. If using the Alternate base period does not increase your rate, we will continue to use the Basic base period and your initial monetary determination will remain in effect. You will be sent a determination notifying you that the Alternate base period was not used because it would not increase your rate.
NOTE: Before applying to use the Alternate base period, you should be aware that once wages are used to establish a claim, they cannot be used to establish a subsequent claim. Once you choose to use the wages in the most recent completed calendar quarter, you cannot use these wages again. This may affect your entitlement to a subsequent claim.
If you do not qualify using the Basic or Alternate base period and you received Workers' Compensation payments or Volunteer Firefighters' benefits during the Basic base period, the Basic base period may be extended back up to 2 calendar quarters depending on the number of base period quarters in which you received these benefits.
NOTE: Wages paid to you for employment that you lost because of misconduct or a criminal act cannot be used to establish a claim or in the calculation of your benefit rate.
NOTE: If you are filing successive unemployment insurance claims, you must have new wages of at least five times your benefit rate in the benefit year to qualify for a new claim.