How Arizona’s COVID-19 Unemployment Compares To Great Recession

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - 2:03pm
Updated: Monday, April 27, 2020 - 12:39pm

Unemployment benefits
Christina Van Otterloo/KJZZ
A guide to Arizona unemployment benefits.

Like many states, Arizona is seeing a record number of people applying for unemployment benefits.

For the week ending April 11, the Department of Economic Security reported 95,382 initial claims. That’s in addition to 164,483 people who continue to collect weekly benefits.

The number of people currently filing for benefits is higher than the total reported by the state in 2009, as the Great Recession was ending. At the end of June 2009, DES reported a total of 127,863 claims.

→ Attention Arizona Unemployed Workers Unable To Reach DES: KJZZ Wants To Hear From You

But this time people are getting bigger checks, thanks to federal grants. Instead of the typical $240 per week, eligible Arizonans can get up to $840 a week through July 25, 2020.

“We know from these numbers that this is an extremely challenging time for Arizonans, and the Department of Economic Security is working hard to process unemployment claims as quickly as possible,” Tom Betlach, department spokesperson, said in a press release. “We are paying out higher numbers each week and this will only continue as we enhance our systems and scale our staff.” 

DES reported a record 22,000 calls answered in the week ending April 11, but many people have been unable to access the department to file for jobless benefits. The state has contracted with a private company to take calls on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting April 26. 

People must file weekly claims to continue receiving benefits. If the initial claim is pending, people must still file each week to receive benefits for each week.

Weekly claims can be filed at The online Weekly Claims System is available from 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Friday. 

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