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Arizona business leader says virus has been economic disaster for state

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Bars, restaurants, retail, tourism and just about everything in between have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Arizona Department of Economic Security said 345,900 Arizonans have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15, 25 times greater than the four weeks leading up to then.

For all of 2019, approximately 200,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in the state, according to Valley economist Jim Rounds.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said everything possible needs to be done to keep people on the payroll and get those who are out of a job back to work soon.

“Arizonans don’t want to sit home. They want to work and run their businesses and provide for their family,” Hamer said.

“When we think about reopening the economy, what will keep us safe and make us better? We want to make sure hospitals are prepared to deal with a potential surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We need more testing to make sure that employers, employees and customers feel safe about opening up the business doors. We should be allowing voluntary temperature taking and testing in every parking lot if that’s what it takes.”

And how Arizona responds will determine how successful Arizona will be moving forward, Hamer said.

“We can do it. We have every essential base industry in the state from aerospace and defense to electric vehicles and medical devices.

“Arizona is at the forefront of all that is happening and we’re ready to move from relief to recovery, Hamer said.

Rounds said Arizona will come out of this downturn in a big way, but the economic landscape will look different.

“Maybe it will be different type of business for employers and workers who didn’t make it through this current economic hit. Eating into the savings accounts is going to be tough on everybody,” Rounds said.

I expect this to continue through the year, but things will start getting better. We have great opportunities going forward but it will take strong leadership to bring it together.”

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