No celebrations for many this Labor Day weekend: Ducey leaves state’s 420,000 unemployed in trouble

September 5, 2020
No celebrations for many this Labor Day weekend:
 Ducey leaves state’s 420,000 unemployed in trouble
Phoenix – As Labor Day approaches, Governor Ducey is telling 420,000 unemployed Arizonans to brace for losing the temporary $300 per week ‘lost wages assistance’.  When that happens, the state’s unemployed must survive on no more than $240 per week.Governor Ducey keeps calling on Congress to pass another unemployment package. The truth is that Arizona, like every state, is responsible for its unemployment system and the assistance provided to the state’s unemployed. Arizona’s leaders have failed to update the state’s system since 2004.Fixing Arizona’s UI system is good for the unemployed and the economy.

The responsibility is in Governor Ducey’s hands to fix our broken system:

  • The maximum weekly benefit in Arizona is still $240 per week – just like it was in 2004. It is the second lowest benefit cap in the country, and only $5 higher than Mississippi.
  • Arizona has the harshest penalty in the country for those that have the opportunity to return to part-time work, reducing assistance after a person earns only $30 in a week.
  • According to the Grand Canyon Institute’s research, more than 40,000 underemployed Arizonans have seen their hours cut by almost half yet they remain excluded from the state’s unemployment system. This has made them ineligible for both federal supplements worth a total of $900 million in targeted federal assistance that would have been paid out if these people lived in any of our neighboring states.
  • This foregone federal assistance has cost Arizona up to $2 billion in lost economic activity since April.
  • Gov. Ducey is still holding onto $400 million in CARES Act funding that could be used to help cover increased unemployment benefits as Arizona’s jobless struggle.
  • The governor has resisted increasing Arizona’s unemployment benefits because of the potential cost to employers should the state have to borrow money to cover the extra cost. When weighed against the individuals and families who will have to survive on $240 a week, that cost is modest. For context, following the Great Recession, Arizona employers were assessed an additional $84 per covered employee over two years to repay loans needed to pay unemployment benefits during that time.
The Grand Canyon Institute, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, is a centrist think tank led by a bipartisan group of former state lawmakers, economists, community leaders and academicians. The Grand Canyon Institute serves as an independent voice reflecting a pragmatic approach to addressing economic, fiscal, budgetary and taxation issues confronting Arizona.