Arizona unemployment benefits pay out record $151M

Apr 21, 2020, 10:45 AM | Updated: Apr 23, 2020, 9:26 am
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – With hundreds of thousands of Arizonans forced out of work during the coronavirus outbreak, the state paid out a record $151 million in unemployment benefits last week, officials reported Monday.

Initial claims reached 72,103 for the week ending April 18, and continued claims totaled 226,793, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

More than 418,000 people have filed for unemployment for the first time in their lives in the past five weeks, according to the office.

“These payments are higher than DES has ever made before,” Tom Betlach, interim department director said in a press release.

Those who have lost their jobs are also getting $600 apiece as part of the federal CARES Act.

“The number [of unemployed] is almost unfathomable,” Glenn Hamer, CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“In a typical week before COVID-19 hit us, about 3,000 people applied for unemployment benefits in Arizona. We had far more jobs available than people to fill them.”

Initial claims of 3,844 were filed for the week ending March 14. Gov. Doug Ducey issued a stay-at home order that went into effect March 31.

Some requirements for unemployment benefits were waived mid-March, including having to wait a week after job loss before applying.

Arizonans who are approved for unemployment benefits will get up to $240 each week for as long as 26 weeks.

Betlach said more staff has been hired to address the crush and starting April 26, call centers will provide service Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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Arizona unemployment benefits pay out record $151M