More unemployment claims filed with Arizona DES as workers enter another week off the job

The unemployment crisis in Arizona continues to deepen due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Economic Security releases the weekly unemployment numbers on Monday afternoons.

The thing to remember, for the people that applied just this last week, is that it might be a while before they receive disbursements from the fund they’ve paid into. That’s because of the sheer volume of people that have filed for unemployment since mid March.

The skyrocketing numbers started the week of March 21, when 29,333 people filed. That in and of itself was ten times the normal amount. Then for the week of March 28, 88,592 filed.

There’s only 2.9 million in the state's labor force, so this is a huge percentage. But there might be far more. That’s of just the ones who’ve been able to file. Others have had issues.

Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

We checked in and the Arizona Department of Economic Security says they handled 2,350 calls on March 26th. 5,400 calls on the 27th, 2,800 on the 30th and 4,600 on the 31st.

DES has quadrupled their staff, but the system is overloaded with many telling us they can’t get through on the phone.

LIVE: Interactive Coronavirus case data and map

I talked with Hannah Harmon, who has been trying to file for unemployment, but hasn’t been able to get past the system yet.

"A lot of people have been applying for unemployment.. I think the site has been just overwhelmed with the amount of people doing that, so I have not personally been able to do my application yet because every time I do, the site has been overloaded," she said.

DES says it might take up to 21 days or more for people to receive benefits from the day they apply. We’ve asked to interview the director to see what’s being done to try to fight through the backlog, but the director has declined to speak with us on camera.


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