Virus Outbreak Arizona

A local bar owner honors Arizona's coronavirus healthcare workers with a projected image of a takeoff on Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon of the World War II era, May 3, 2020, in Phoenix.

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Labor announced 31,795 new unemployment benefits claims were filed with the Arizona Department of Employment Security last week, a drop from the previous week but still elevated from where it was a year prior. 

Nationally, new jobless claims continued their COVID-19 surge, driving the total number of those filing for unemployment benefits to more than 36 million over the past two months.

2.98 million Americans filed for benefits last week, even as several states ease restrictions that allowed businesses to reopen.

Arizona’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” is scheduled to end Friday at midnight. It will be replaced with another of Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive orders that allow for businesses to reopen as long as they’re following public health guidelines.

Michael Lucci, president and publisher of 50economy.org, said the real-time unemployment rate in the U.S. was 23.8 percent through April 25.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the American economy on its head, leaving nearly 1 in 4 American workers unemployed,” Lucci wrote. “In only two months, the U.S. economy transformed from full employment to extreme joblessness that Americans have not lived through since the Great Depression.”

The coming week’s numbers are expected to be higher due to the federal government opening up the unemployment benefits process to part-time, contract, gig workers and others who weren’t eligible for unemployment before.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.