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PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced Arizona's plan to support Arizonans getting back to work, and fill the thousands of jobs available across the state.
Governor Ducey announced Arizona will no longer be taking federal money for supplemental unemployment benefits, and instead will offer one-time bonuses to returning workers, along with child care support, educational opportunities and rental assistance.
"In Arizona, we're going to use federal money to encourage people to work…instead of paying people not to work," Governor Ducey said.
As the Arizona Republic has reported, many employers report they are having trouble competing with the federal government's unemployment payments, which are paying individuals more to stay home and not work than to find a job.
Arizona will offer a $2,000 Back To Work bonus for eligible workers — with a goal of getting as many Arizonans as possible to rejoin the workforce by Labor Day, September 6, 2021.
With this new program, Arizona will stop taking the federal government's pandemic unemployment benefits effective Saturday, July 10. Arizona will also provide support for unemployed individuals seeking to upskill their careers with adult education programs as well as additional child care opportunities.
"With ample supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine on hand and millions of Arizonans vaccinated, people feel safer and are finally returning to life in Arizona as we knew and loved it before," said Governor Ducey. "People are back in the office, restaurants are at full capacity and tourists are flocking to our state."
"Although more people are ready to work today in Arizona than before the pandemic, many businesses are struggling to fill vital positions," the Governor added. "We cannot let unemployment benefits be a barrier to getting people back to work."
Governor Ducey's Back To Work program will help individuals transition from unemployment to a new job, and ensure those currently receiving unemployment have support available to help them in this critical step forward.
Instead of using the federal stimulus funding to further grow the size of government, Governor Ducey said Arizona is using it to encourage those who can work to connect with job opportunities.
"There is dignity in work. Ronald Reagan said the best social program is a job. I agree with that," Governor Ducey said.
"We have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure those who were displaced received the support they needed for themselves and their families," said Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Director Michael Wisehart. "Now that employers in all sectors are hiring, we're ready to transition and enhance our assistance to families, job seekers and employers. We are committed to ensuring the long-term strength of Arizona's economy to provide self-sufficiency for Arizona's families."
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The Governor's Back To Work program is garnering support from community and business leaders across the state:
"Governor Ducey is breaking down many of the barriers that prevent people from returning to work. Getting people funding for GED programs, community college, providing funding for childcare, and bonus money for their hard work is the hand up Arizonans need," said Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Mignonne Hollis.
"After last week's disappointing federal jobs report, Arizona is implementing a common-sense, conservative plan to ensure we continue our state's strong economic rebound," said Prescott Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sheri Heiney.
"Across Arizona, restaurants of all sizes are ready to hire new employees and expand their teams," said Arizona Restaurant Association President and CEO Steve Chucri. "When it comes to the food and beverage industry, things are much different than they were a year ago. Millions are vaccinated, we know how to keep patrons and staff safe, and people are ready to eat at restaurants again. Restaurants need to ensure they have enough staff to meet the demand, but many are struggling to fill positions. I'm grateful to Governor Ducey for encouraging Arizonans to find new employment opportunities so we can get our restaurants fully staffed and continue to move the state's economy forward."
"We're excited to welcome new team members and provide great jobs for Arizonans," said Westroc Hospitality President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Nassikas. "After weathering the pandemic, we know Arizonans are looking for employment opportunities. We're ready to hire, along with countless other businesses across the state."
"Arizona's tourism and hospitality industry is poised and eager to welcome visitors," said Arizona Tourism and Lodging Association President and CEO Kim Grace Sabow. We are prepared to offer safe and unique experiences to both leisure and business travelers. An array of quality jobs are available for those seeking a rewarding industry career path -- and we're ready to hire today!"
See details on the Back To Work program below:
Arizona will set aside $300 million of federal resources to offer a one-time bonus of $2,000 to eligible individuals who return to the workforce and get a full-time job, while those who return part-time will receive $1,000. The bonus will be awarded when the individual has left the unemployment insurance program and completed at least 10 weeks of work with an employer, and be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
In order to qualify for the bonus, an individual must have already filed for unemployment benefits. Arizonans filing for new unemployment benefits after today will not be eligible for Return-to-Work bonuses.The individual must also make $25 per hour or less, equivalent to a yearly salary of $52,000, at their new job and must begin working by Labor Day — Monday, September 6. Qualifying individuals may accept a job with an employer immediately to qualify for the bonus. More details about this program will be announced soon by DES at https://des.az.gov/back-to-work-program.
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The State will also provide $7.5 million for community college scholarships for currently unemployed workers who are eligible for the Return-to-Work bonuses — as well as $6 million for GED test preparation and exam fees for eligible workers without a high school diploma.
Child Care For Returning Workers
The State will provide three months of child care assistance for individuals with children who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits. To be eligible, an individual must have already filed for unemployment benefits and earn $25 per hour, equivalent to a yearly salary of $52,000, or less at their new job.
The Governor on May 5 announced significant new federal investment of $508,400,000 aimed at addressing housing instability in Arizona. The funds will assist renters, support homeowners experiencing financial hardship, and provide critical services to Arizonans experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
Arizona's new employment program comes as the state's economy is booming, employers are looking for talent, and 2.5 million+ Arizonans are fully vaccinated.
As of March, there were 160,000 - 180,000 jobs available across the state, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity recently released a report showing Arizona will add nearly 550,000 jobs by 2029 for an annualized job growth rate of 1.6 percent, four times the U.S. growth rate.
Arizona State University forecasters on May 6 said the state's strong economic rebound is in progress and more jobs are coming.
As restaurants across the state safely operate at full capacity, Downtown Phoenix is set to have more restaurants than before the pandemic.
As employment opportunities grow, Governor Ducey on March 3 reinstated the rule that an individual receiving employment benefits must be actively looking for work in order to receive the benefits. Under the new requirement, Arizonans receiving unemployment benefits may continue to receive benefits, but must show that they are actively looking for work.
Additionally, Governor Ducey and DES last week announced an additional $9 million in aid for child care providers throughout the state. With this funding, Arizona will have allocated a total of $88 million in Child Care and Development Fund relief funding for the child care network, providers and families since the beginning of the pandemic, as appropriated through the 2020 CARES Act.
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