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Governor Ducey reinstates requirement of looking for work to get unemployment benefits

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Posted at 9:50 AM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 16:54:09-04

PHOENIX — Those receiving unemployment benefits in Arizona will soon have to again prove that they are actively looking for work in order to receive those benefits, Gov. Doug Ducey and his office announced Monday.

“Arizonans receiving unemployment benefits may continue to receive benefits, but under reinstated requirements, must show that they are actively looking for work," a news release from the Governor's Office said.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security will begin reinforcing the requirement beginning the week of Sunday, May 23, Ducey's office said.

Related: Unemployed in Arizona? How to prove you're looking for work

In March 2020, Gov. Ducey signed an executive order waiving some of the requirements to receive unemployment assistance throughout the pandemic, including the one-week waiting period after someone loses their job and that they were actively applying for jobs. Gov. Ducey rescinded that order on Monday.

Several businesses in the Valley, especially bars, breweries, and restaurants, have been struggling to fill open positions, even offering incentives such as increased wages, sign-on bonuses, and six-month bonuses to entice workers to come back.

While most business owners ABC15 has spoken to blame unemployment and the additional CARES Act funding for the hiring shortages, especially in the hospitality industries, others have acknowledged that workers found other jobs and left the industry altogether, left the state, are focused more on "gig" jobs and work-from-home jobs, or weren't ready to come back due to overall COVID-19 concerns, including wanting to get the vaccine.

Related: Why diners may notice longer wait times, reduced hours, and limited menus at restaurants

The Governor's Office said Monday's action "aims to help fill these spots and promote continued job growth." They also cited the amount of people who've received the COVID-19 vaccine and the number of vaccines available.

"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," Gov. Ducey said in a statement.

So, what changes for those needing to collect unemployment?

Beginning the week of May 23, people wanting to collect unemployment will have to prove that they are actively looking for work and "make a systematic and sustained effort to seek work each week they claim benefits," said Tasya C. Peterson, press secretary for the Arizona Department of Economic Security, in an email to ABC15,

The department is currently working to reinstate those "work search" requirements within their current systems, she said.

"In accordance with Arizona law, this means making at least one job contact per day on four different days of the week. A claimant’s work search should include trying to find work that they are suited for by experience, education and/or training," she said. "An adequate search for work is a sincere, consistent effort to find a job and is not just an attempt to remain eligible for benefits. Claimants should follow up general inquiries by making personal visits or by submitting applications and resumes."

Here are the actions that DES is looking for:

  • Directly contacting an employer
  • Registering with and contacting your union hiring or placement facility
  • Registering with a placement facility of your professional organization
  • Checking back with former employers who may have openings suitable for you
  • Registering with a placement facility at your school, college or university for work that may be available in your occupation or profession
  • Taking a test for or applying for openings in civil service or a government agency
  • Registering for suitable work with a private employment agency or an employer’s placement facility

People will be required to provide the date they contacted an employer, the employer's name and address, the name of the website or person contacted, how they were contacted, the type of work, and the action taken on that particular day, Peterson said.

People will also have to register with Arizona Job Connection, a website that connects workers with employers and training.

You can read the full order here or embedded below.

Arizona lawmakers are also considering an increase in unemployment payments for the first time in 17 years. Under current law, Arizonans can receive up to $240 a week in unemployment benefits.

Two bills are being considered by lawmakers that could move the state up a bit, from second-lowest pay to 38th place.

ABC15's Let Joe Know team has been covering unemployment issues from fraud to missing payments amid the pandemic. To learn more, click here.