Arizona unemployment increases in week of expanded eligibility

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Arizona’s Department of Economic Security processed 700 more applications for unemployment than it had issued the week prior, likely due to the state offering Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits beginning Monday.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 32,295 workers applied for unemployment benefits in the week that ended May 16, 725 more than the week before. The unemployment rate for April doubled to 12.6 percent, according to state officials. It was 6.1 percent in March.

The state’s Department of Economic Security announced earlier this week that they had paid out more than $519 million in state unemployment insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment benefits during that time.

“The launch of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program last week has allowed us to provide additional financial support to unemployed Arizonans,” said Tom Betlach, from the Office of the Director. “The demand for this assistance is significant, and by continuing to distribute benefits to our communities, we can support families in need, as well as our state’s economic recovery.”

More than 576,000 Arizona workers have filed for unemployment benefits so far in 2020, compared to 203,413 in all of 2019.

Nationally, new jobless claims continued their COVID-19 spike last week. The total number of those filing for unemployment benefits rose to nearly 39 million since mid-March.

The Department of Labor announced 2.44 million workers filed for benefits last week, down 249,000 from the revised number of claims filed in the week ending May 9.

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