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ABC15 Analysis: More than 200,000 Arizonans waiting for unemployment payments

Posted at 9:48 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 00:53:09-04

Within days of each other, Stacey Waggaman and her boyfriend Deon Provitt found themselves filing unemployment claims after being furloughed from their jobs in restaurants.

Both received approvals in the mail in the last week of March. Neither have been paid.

Both their cases with the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) showed a status of "active issues."

Stacey says her employer, Olive Garden, gave workers around $200 per week to help keep them afloat for the first the first few weeks that they weren't able to work.

That money stopped a while ago.

But she says she can't get in touch with anyone at DES to let them know.

"I have been calling like hundreds of times a day," she said.

She's not waiting alone.

ABC15 data expert Garrett Archer analyzed unemployment data released by DES.

It shows from March 15 through April 25, about 201,859 Arizonans have filed unemployment claims that have not been paid.

Here's how we got that number.

Of the 470,366 claims that have been filed since March 15, 250,507 are receiving payment.

When we subtract the nearly 18,000 people who were already getting unemployment benefits before March 15, that leaves 201,859 Arizonans whose claims have not been processed as of April 25.

While we have no way to know what's going on with the claims that are waiting to be paid, but we know at least some are sitting an "active status" like Stacey and Deon's.

And we know many can't get through to try and fix whatever is holding things up.

"I stayed up all night so to make sure I was up at 6 o'clock...6:30 to make these phone calls," said.

In Deon's case he had to pay back an over-payment in unemployment benefits from the last time he used the system, two years ago before he could qualify for new benefits.

They the used $800 of their $1,200 stimulus check to do it.

"I actually sent a physical money order in and I haven't heard a response," he said.

The family had hoped to save enough for a down-payment on their own home this year.

"We had to use all of that money all of it just to survive this," Deon said.

As a new month rolls around they are just focused on keeping the roof that they have over their heads.

"And our apartments are not lenient. You know I just saw her lock someone out the other day," Stacey said.

Deon added, "yeah they're not playing when it comes to their rent."