Arizona DES sees 800 percent increase in unemployment claims

On Monday, March 23, FOX 10 reported on a surge in unemployment applications in the state as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

FOX 10 filed a public records request with the Arizona Department of Economic Security for daily unemployment claims. So far, we've received numbers up until March 19.

On March 23 alone, 2,301 people filed. On Tuesday, it doubled to 3,939. 

Once Governor Doug Ducey closed dining inside restaurants, the numbers jumped.

Wednesday: 7,196 and Thursday: 6,407. 

On Friday, DES received so many applications that the system had a tough time keeping up. That number stood at 29,000.

On Tuesday, however, FOX 10's Steve Nielsen learned of 14,000 claims on Monday.

We did the math. If you take 29,000 out of the state's labor force, it comes out to a full percentage point increase in the state's unemployment rate in just one week.

The state has also expanded what qualifies for unemployment insurance so more people are now able to claim it, so likely, those numbers will continue to be high this week.

Arizona has the second lowest unemployment benefits in the entire country, just above Mississipi. $240 a week is the maximum benefit, for 26 weeks total. Nevada and New Mexico both give out, on average, $200 more than Arizona a week.

At the federal level, there have been discussions of increasing unemployment insurance, but nothing has been agreed to yet.

DES also confirmed that the fund that feeds unemployment is $1.1 billion, so if 29,000 people collected full unemployment benefits for the maximum of 26 weeks, it would cost less than 20 percent of the fund.


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