PHOENIX - Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Monday issued an executive order stating that residents who are receiving unemployment benefits must show proof that they are actively looking for work.
"The Arizona Department of Economic Security will begin enforcing the reinstated requirement the week of Sunday, May 23," the governor's office said in a news release.
"A year out from the start of the pandemic, jobs and vaccines are readily available," Ducey said in a statement on May 3. "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."
Another caveat: if people show proof of a job search, they'll likely have to take that job anyway.
The law says that anyone receiving unemployment benefits will have to take a job that pays them 20% more than those benefits, or they will not recieve any of their benefits at all. A minimum wage job would cover that requirement.
Authorities on Monday reported 652 additional COVID-19 cases in Arizona, but no additional deaths from the virus.
Over 2.9 million residents — 41% of Arizona’s population — have received at least one shot with almost 2.3 million people fully vaccinated.
Health officials said more than 5 million vaccine doses have been administered in Arizona.
In all, 864,000 confirmed cases and 17,344 deaths from the virus have been reported in Arizona since the pandemic began.
Arizona businesses discuss lack of urgency in job hunt
Steve Newton is ready to work.
"I figured, you know, I’ve been off for a while and I wanted to get back into the workforce," Newton said.
As a veteran of the hospitality industry - one of the hardest hit pandemic sectors - he had to bounce around last year while his wife worked in healthcare. That brought him to Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale.
"It’s been a tough year," Newton said. "I was out and had just relocated here from Texas in March of last year."
Like many companies now, Great Wolf Lodge has the Help Wanted sign up. General manager Brian Johnson says the need is there - they're operating at 80% capacity and need to staff up.
"I haven’t seen the sense of urgency as you talk about," Johnson said. "I expected more...it’s a little slower. You know there’s safety concerns, child care, school. So many different facets to consider when looking for a job."
Unemployment insurance requirements are reverting to pre-pandemic requirements, and job seekers will have to show proof of seeking a job to receive benefits.
For companies like A New Horizon Healthcare Services, they still can’t fill the open slots they have.
"We have an application link that we’ll send to people," said Angela Krasa with A New Horizon. "A lot of times when we reconnect with them to get the interview process either they don’t show up, or don’t call back, don’t answer their phones. So it’s really hard for us to find new hires."
Arizona businesses, families feeling the impact of the job hunt
It’s everything an owner would want to see after a tough year: a packed restaurant.
Cheba Hut restaurants have been busy in the Valley but there’s a problem behind the scenes.
"We’re trying to fill literally everything," says Dorian Lenz with Cheba Hut.
Dorian Lenz says competition for employees is so high that he can’t hire enough.
"The market is so open right now. Everyone is hiring. I’ll have 10 people apply, only 5 will sign up for interviews and only 2 will show up," Lenz says.
They’ve even had to close shops for days at a time because they don’t have the staff.
Elizabeth Newcomb, who is unemployed, says, "It was supposed to be a lift up not a lift back down and causing everyone to be homeless."
She's a single mom and her child care closed. She says getting a job isn’t an option until the world gets back to normal.
"Who’s going to watch my kids? I don’t have anyone to watch my kids, so he’s not thinking about the whole picture here, he’s not," Newcomb says of Ducey's order.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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