Ducey restores pre-pandemic unemployment benefit requirements

Despite an unemployment rate that President Donald Trump touted, African Americans still lag the rest of Arizona: The jobless rate in 2017 was almost twice the state average, while black incomes were lower and poverty rates higher. (Photo by Alachua County/Creative Commons)

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.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”