Virus Outbreak Arizona

FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2020, file photo, Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey arrives for a news conference to talk about the latest Arizona COVID-19 information in Phoenix. Ducey is prohibiting government mask mandates and allowing bars and nightclubs shuttered for months to open their doors without restrictions. Ducey's move Thursday, March 25, 2021, leaves in place few of the restrictions he implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool, File)

PHOENIX -- Arizonans are going to have to start looking for work again if they want to keep their unemployment benefits.

Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday rescinded an order he signed last year suspending those job-search requirements during the pandemic. That was based on not wanting to force people to go out looking even as the COVID-19 pandemic was raging.

Those requirement mandate that those collecting benefits make contact with potential employers at least four days a week. And after four weeks of benefits, people collecting generally have to take any job that pays them at least 20% more than they are collecting.

With state benefits cap at $240 a week, that's pretty low. In fact, any job paying minimum wage of $12.15 an hour would qualify.

So would jobs for tipped workers who are entitled to be paid just $9.15 an hour as long as their tips bring them up to the minimum.

The governor said he was concerned about reports that some industries were having problems finding workers. Particularly hard hit is the hospitality industry with hotels and resorts, now starting to recover as more people are vaccinated and willing to travel, reporting they are finding no takers, including among former employees.

Ducey's order mirrors that development.

"With the availability of employment opportunities and COVID-19 vaccines readily available, the need to suspend work search and other requirement addressed by (the) executive order no longer exist,'' it says.

The most recent report from the state Department of Economic Security says there are about 55,000 Arizonans currently collecting state benefits.

That is down from a peak of more than 230,000 last summer. But it still is higher than the 17,000 a week before the pandemic.

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