Arizona’s minimum wage $12.80 per hour. Effective January 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022

Arizona already ranks 47th in the country for jobless benefits, according to the U.S. Labor Department, but it’s about to get a lot harder for unemployed Arizonans. Currently Arizonans who’ve lost their job get an average $230 a week in benefits compared to the national average of $350. The unemployment insurance program which is funded by premiums paid by employers and administered by Arizona’s Department of Economic Security gives employees who were laid off, through no fault of their own, up to 50% of what they were earning for up to 26 weeks.
If all that doesn’t sound tough enough, a new law set to take effect August 3, 2021 will limit the benefits even further. It does this by changing what is considered a so-called “suitable job” and the time a job hunter is allowed to search for that job while still collecting benefits. Under the new law a “suitable job” is one that pays 20 percent more than the jobless benefits being paid out and the allowable job hunting time is now four (4) weeks.
Being that Arizona limits benefits to $240 a week, no matter how much someone was earning, that means a person collecting unemployment would be required, after collecting unemployment benefits for four weeks, to take any work that pays at least $288 a week — about $15,000 a year — no matter how much she or he was earning before. If the person refuses they would no longer be able to collect their unemployment insurance benefits.
The author of the law stands behind the basic premise of the bill of making “sure that people are actually out there who need a job are going to try to get one.” And, the bill does have incentives too in the form of requiring DES to set up a return-to-work program where those collecting unemployment insurance could become an apprentice or intern at certain companies for up to six weeks, all while continuing to collect their weekly checks.
The US Department of Labor’s Office of Unemployment Insurance is looking into whether the provision requiring people to accept any job or lose their benefits runs afoul of federal law. With the law taking effect on August 3rd, Federal and State officials are in communication to make sure enforcement complies with all federal laws and statutes and that it doesn’t give businesses the green light to employ cheap labor using a person’s fear of losing benefits as leverage.