The $300 a week in supplemental jobless pay Arizonans have enjoyed for months are coming to an end after payments go out this week, meaning anyone collecting benefits — and there are about 143,000 such people — will go back to receiving just $240 a week maximum.
Congress authorized the bonus weekly benefits to address the surge in jobless claims following the arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S. in spring of 2020, starting with a $600 weekly boost then moving to a $300 weekly supplement.
Arizonans who were out of work between July 4 and July 10 will still get the $300 on their claims for that week, which are paid the week of July 11. But people out of work after July 11 will get $240 a week maximum on their claims.
Arizona’s jobless benefits are second-lowest in the nation.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced a plan in May to not only end the supplemental benefits in the state but also to offer people who return to full-time work a $2,000 bonus, and half that for part-timers.
The federal supplement is available until the week ending Sept. 4 for states that continue to participate.
Ducey said he was making the changes to encourage people to go back to work because a variety of businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, were having trouble finding employees.
To get the return-to-work-bonuses, people will have to not only leave the unemployment program but show they got a job with pay stubs, and they will have to provide the state with an employer to contact.
People can apply for a $2,000 bonus after working 320 hours or more, or a $1,000 bonus after working 160 hours or more during the first 10 weeks after returning to work at a qualifying job between May 13 and Sept. 6.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security was scheduled to release the application for the program July 10. People interested in the deal can check their eligibility online at azdes-community.force.com/returntoworkbonuslookup.
Changes also are coming to unemployment next year after the Legislature approved a bipartisan bill, which Ducey signed, that will boost the weekly benefits in the state to $320 a week effective July 2022. However, when the unemployment rate is at or below 5%, the benefits will only last 24 weeks, instead of the current 26 weeks.
The Grand Canyon Institute, which pressed for the increases at the Legislature, estimates that 70,000 Arizonans will benefit from the increased payouts in the first year.
The changes will put Arizona at 44th highest in the nation based on weekly benefit amounts, according to the group.
The institute also is pleased with a change in the “income disregard,” or the amount of money a person can earn from a part-time job while collecting jobless benefits. The current figure is just $30 a week but that will change to $160 a week.
The Grand Canyon Institute estimates 14,000 people a year will benefit from that change, which effectively allows people to take on more work without losing state benefits.
“The new law will provide more people with the opportunity to remain connected to the workforce while they look for full employment,” the Grand Canyon Institute said in a statement on the new law.