Unemployment fraud a growing issue in Arizona, slowing payments to those in need

The amount of money Arizona distributed in unemployment benefits slowed down last week, even as tens of thousands of new applications for assistance came in to the Department of Economic Security, weekly figures show.

DES says it has seen payments slow as the agency deals with a sharp increase in fraud.

The number of new applications for unemployment held steady at about 30,000, according to initial DES figures. Those numbers could rise this week following the governor’s orders Monday to again shut down bars, gyms and water parks.

But even with growing ranks of people applying for and getting benefits, the weekly payout last week actually declined to about $167 million, from more than $168 million the week before.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Arizona paid about $3 million a week in benefits, but that has risen steadily as people enroll in unemployment. The weekly payout hit a high of $287 million the week of June 6, according to DES. Some of the weekly payout is retroactive and includes people getting paid for multiple weeks.

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