Gov. Doug Ducey has reinstated a requirement that Arizonans show they’re looking for work in order to qualify for unemployment benefits, a qualification he set aside last year as tens of thousands of people suddenly found themselves jobless during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The requirement will go into effect the week of May 23. In order to receive unemployment benefits, Arizonans will have to meet the pre-pandemic requirement that they be actively looking for work. By rescinding his March 20, 2020, executive order, Ducey also reinstated a one-week waiting period for people to apply for unemployment benefits after losing their jobs.
Ducey waived the requirement in March 2020 as the pandemic ravaged the economy. Many people in Arizona and across the country lost their jobs as restaurants and many other businesses temporarily closed their doors, with grim prospects for finding new jobs amid government-mandated shutdowns.
Now, unemployment is again low and the economy is bouncing back as the pandemic recedes and more Arizonans receive COVID vaccinations. But many businesses, especially in the restaurant and hospitality industries, say they’re having trouble finding workers to fill their open jobs. Some blame the abundance of unemployment benefits for discouraging people from finding jobs.
“As President Reagan said, the best social program is a job,” Ducey said in a press statement on Monday. “This statement rings true today. Unemployment benefits are still available to Arizonans who need them, but now that plenty of jobs are available, those receiving the benefits should be actively looking for work.”
Ducey cited reports that more people are employed in Arizona now than before the pandemic started, a time in which the state’s economy was booming.