Arizona nears pre-pandemic job rates after ‘Back to Work’ initiative

Arizona has the second quickest rate of unemployment claims recovery in the U.S since last week, as well as the eighth quickest rate of claims recovery since the start of the pandemic, according to WalletHub. 

Last week, South Carolina and Arizona were the only two states to have unemployment numbers below their 2019 rate from the same week.

In April of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began causing shutdowns, Arizona’s unemployment rate jumped from 5% to 14.2%. However, Arizona had a 15.48% drop in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims in the week of June 7, 2021, compared to the week of June 10, 2019. There has been a 13.86% increase in unemployment claims when the latest week is compared to the beginning of 2020. 

Arizona’s job numbers come weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey’s May 13 announcement that, on July 10, the state will no longer provide unemployed residents with additional $300 weekly payments from the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Instead, the state will offer a maximum of $240 in weekly benefits for those actively seeking work. Arizona will additionally offer a $2,000 Back To Work bonus for eligible workers to maximize the number of Arizonans returning to the workforce by Labor Day. The bonuses are given on a first-come, first-served basis.

“In Arizona, we’re going to use federal money to encourage people to work…instead of paying people not to work,” Ducey said in a statement. 

Despite an increase in business, hotels and restaurants were still struggling to find staff as many of their employees made more money on unemployment payments than in their former jobs. 

Arizonans receiving unemployment benefits were collecting a maximum of $540 per week in unemployment benefits, with Arizona’s typical $240 in unemployment benefits plus an additional $300 from the federal grant. With Arizona’s minimum wage at $12.15 an hour, the weekly paycheck of full-time minimum wage workers in Arizona amounts to $486, $54 less than those workers could receive on unemployment.

Arizona’s maximum unemployment compensation rate is among the lowest in the country. Lawmakers have proposed to increase it in their budget that’s yet to be passed.

This article was originally posted on Arizona nears pre-pandemic job rates after ‘Back to Work’ initiative

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