Arizona agency adjusts to deal with skyrocketing unemployment claims

Apr 15, 2020, 11:27 AM | Updated: 11:30 am

PHOENIX – Arizonans received more than $26.9 million in unemployment insurance last week, with claims skyrocketing while the coronavirus outbreak locks up the economy.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security said Wednesday it’s making a variety of adjustments, including increasing call center hours, to address the surge of claims.

“We know from these numbers that this is an extremely challenging time for Arizonans, and the Department of Economic Security is working hard to process unemployment claims as quickly as possible,” Director Tom Betlach said in a press release.

“We are paying out higher numbers each week, and this will only continue as we enhance our systems and scale our staff.”

Another $55 million in benefits, including an extra $600 per claimant from the federal COVID-19 relief package, went out Monday to people that filed weekly certifications Sunday, according to DES.

Active claims beginning March 29 will receive the $600 payments retroactively, the department said. The supplemental benefit will be distributed through July 25 per the terms of the federal CARES Act.

In the week that ended April 11, Arizonans made 95,382 initial unemployment claims on top of 164,483 continuing claims. DES answered a record 22,000 calls for the week.

By contrast, there were 3,844 initial claims, 17,595 continued claims and 3,400 calls answered for the week ending March 14.

Starting April 26, DES call centers will provide service Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to extending call center hours, the department has increased staffing, installed an FAQ chat bot on its website and contracted with a private sector call center company.

To continue receiving benefits, individuals must file weekly claims at between 12:01 a.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Friday.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A nurse puts a used syringe into a box at an Italian Red Cross anti COVID-19 vaccination hub, in Ro...

Arizona adds under 2,000 COVID-19 cases for first time this month

Arizona on Monday reported fewer than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time this month, but hospital numbers remained at their highest levels since last winter.
12 hours ago
(Sunrise Park Resort screenshot)...

Sunrise Park Resort to open for 2021-22 winter season next week

Sunrise Park Resort announced Sunday it plans to open the 2021-22 winter season on Dec. 10, a week later than the projected date.
12 hours ago
(File photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)...

Arizona ranked as one of the least charitable states, per WalletHub

It's the season of giving but a personal finance website ranked Arizona as one of the least charitable states in the country.
12 hours ago
(City of Chandler Photo)...

Tumbleweed Tree lighting, Parade of Lights to take place this weekend in Chandler

An East Valley holiday tradition is back in-person this year as event organizers prepare for the 65th annual Tumbleweed Tree lighting and the Parade of Lights on Saturday.
12 hours ago
(Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Flagstaff pauses construction of USGS facilities over rising costs

The city of Flagstaff is hitting pause on the construction of new buildings in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey because of soaring costs.
12 hours ago
Americans are expected to spend an average of $886 on gifts this holiday season. Spending in Arizon...

It’s beginning to look a lot like a post-COVID Christmas for vendors

In the second holiday season of the pandemic era, goods may cost more, but Americans have more money to spend – and they appear to be eager to spend it.
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.

How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
Arizona agency adjusts to deal with skyrocketing unemployment claims