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What does Gov. Ducey's unemployment benefits change mean for Arizonans?

Unemployment
Posted at 3:11 PM, May 13, 2021

PHOENIX — Arizona is the latest state to opt out of the $300 federal unemployment subsidy, to encourage people into jobs that are going unfilled.

Governor Doug Ducey announced the change in a series of tweets on Thursday.

The reduction will bring Arizona's maximum benefit back down to $240 per week or $6 an hour before taxes.

The $300 federal subsidy had increased the maximum payment to $540 a week or $13.50 an hour before taxes.

Arizona's minimum wage is $12.15 per hour.

The reduction in unemployment benefits becomes effective July 10, and will coincide with bonuses for people to return to work, education incentives, and temporary childcare assistance, according to a press release from Ducey's office. The state will use federal money to fund the programs.

So what do the changes mean for Arizonans using unemployment benefits?

RETURN-TO-WORK BONUS

The incentives are only available for Arizonans who have applied for unemployment benefits by May 13.
People would be eligible for a $2,000 bonus for full-time or $1,000 for part-time if they:

  • Begin work by September 6, 2021, and,
  • Make less than $25 per hour or $52,000 annually
  • Complete 10 weeks in a position

The state will use $300 million in federal money to fund the bonuses and will be issued on a first come, first served basis, and will be handled by the Arizona Department of Economic Security, according to the press release.

CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE

Three months of childcare assistance is available to people using unemployment benefits if they:

  • Make less than $25 per hour or $52,000 annually

The amount of the subsidy will vary based on factors such as the age of the child, according to Ducey's spokesman, CJ Karamargin.

EDUCATION INCENTIVES

The state set aside $7.5 million for scholarships to community colleges for people who are receiving unemployment payments and $6 million for GED preparation and exam fees.

Additional details about how the bonuses, childcare assistance and education incentives would function and how people will access them were not immediately available.

SIMILAR MOVES

Arizona joins other Republican governor-led states Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana in announcing the cut to federal unemployment benefits in recent days, citing labor shortages.

Track state unemployment rates in the interactive map below.

However, according to ABC15 analysis, only Arizona and Montana are offering return to work bonuses to people currently receiving unemployment benefits.