Arizonans accepting unemployment benefits will have to begin searching for work later this month if they want to continue receiving their weekly checks from the state.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced Monday he’s rescinding a waiver that allowed residents to collect unemployment benefits without proving they actively are searching for work.
The governor pointed to stories about local businesses struggling to find workers.
“A year out from the start of the pandemic, jobs and vaccines are readily available,” Ducey said in a statement. “Arizonans are ready to get back to work. Our economy is booming, jobs need filling, more than 2 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated, and vaccination appointments are available to anyone who wants one.”
The Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES) will begin enforcing the requirement on May 23. To stay on the unemployment roll, workers must prove they are reaching out to employers four days a week. As of April 24, ADES data shows more than 55,000 continuing unemployment claims and 133,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims. The state saw more than 232,000 workers applying for unemployment insurance at its peak in August.
The push to get more people back to work is pronounced in Arizona because of the speed of the recovery. The state has outpaced most others and now has a larger workforce than it did before the pandemic.
A report from Arizona’s Office of Economic Opportunity projected the state would see considerable growth this spring, adding an estimated 325,000 jobs over the next 12 months. The largest gains, it predicted, would be in the hospitality and service industries, which were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Arizona continues to be a top travel destination for leisure visitors,” said Arizona Office of Tourism Director Debbie Johnson. “The tourism industry was hard-hit by the pandemic, but now that we have a better understanding of the virus and more people have been vaccinated, visitors are returning to Arizona for our unbeatable outdoor recreation, top-notch restaurants, beautiful lodging and more.”
Ducey invoked President Ronald Reagan’s famous statement that “the best social program is a job,” adding, “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.”