Less than a year and a half after the initial economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona has already recovered more than 100 percent of private sector jobs, representing one of the fastest jobs recoveries in the nation.
The Arizona seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 6.2% in August 2021 from 6.6% in July 2021. The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.2% in August 2021 from 5.4% in July 2021.
Month over month, Arizona’s seasonally adjusted labor force increased by 6,169 individuals or 0.2%. Year over year, the labor force increased by 119,257 individuals or 3.4%. Month over month, Arizona total non-farm employment increased by 53,600 jobs or 1.8%. Year over year, total non-farm employment increased by 162,400 jobs or 5.8%.
“The last year and a half have challenged Arizonans like never before,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “But thanks to the ingenuity and perseverance of our hard-working employees and business community, Arizona’s recovery is in full swing, with a real momentum headed in the right direction. This isn’t the case for every state, and we will continue to work hard to make sure Arizonans have ample opportunity to reenter the workforce, access new skills, and get back to work.”
If given the option between working full time or doing nothing but receiving the same or greater pay, which would you choose? Most people would choose the latter. And can you blame them? Why wake up early and work all day if the government will pay you to stay home and do nothing instead?
This is the current workforce environment in America, and it is having a detrimental impact on our economic recovery. The result? While the Biden administration was hoping to tout a million new jobs for the month of April, they ended with a paltry 266,000.
And we have seen this lag in job recovery all across the country. Restaurants have posted signs apologizing to customers for delays in service, noting that their employees refuse to come back to work. And some businesses have started offering cash simply for coming in for an interview.
Never let a crisis go to waste, right? Under the guise of a global pandemic, politicians shut down the economy, and then created a citizenry dependent on unemployment checks exceeding the wish list $15 minimum wage pushed by the likes of Bernie Sanders. How is a business, coming out of potentially months with no profit, supposed to compete with that?
It is completely unsustainable. States can’t afford it. The feds can’t afford it. And most importantly, small businesses can’t shoulder it any longer.
Fortunately, some states have moved in the right direction. South Carolina announced they will be ending the $300 federal unemployment supplemental payments. This comes after Montana announced the same, along with $1,200 stipends to Montanans who return to work.
PHOENIX — Across the state, chambers of commerce are applauding Governor Doug Ducey’s decision that Arizona will no longer be taking the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and instead will offer one-time bonuses to returning workers, along with child care support, educational opportunities and rental assistance.
The announcement follows reports from employers that 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 stop taking the federal government’s pandemic unemployment benefits effective Saturday, July 10. Instead, the state 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.
Arizona will also provide support for unemployed individuals seeking to upskill their careers with adult education programs as well as additional child care opportunities.
“In Arizona, we’re going to use federal money to encourage people to work…instead of paying people not to work,” Governor Ducey said in a video.
“The best social program is a job.” – President Ronald Reagan
Arizona is back to work!
Effective July 10th, Arizona will no longer be paying the $300/week federal supplement to unemployed workers, and instead we will be helping Arizonans get back to work. 1/ pic.twitter.com/lNXPhTrWxm
“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 Ducey. “People are back in the office, restaurants are at full capacity and tourists are flocking to our state.”
“There is dignity in work. Ronald Reagan said the best social program is a job. I agree with that,” 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.”
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!”
This month’s jobs numbers report, showing a dismal 266,000 jobs added last month to the nation’s economy, has not surprised small business owners. School closures, erratic school schedules in states allowing students to return to the classroom, and nonstop unemployment benefits have kept potential employees home, studies show.
Just the day before the national numbers came out, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its Jobs Report and its latest numbers confirm that there is a dearth of ready-to-work employees.
According to the NFIB report, a record 44% of all small business owners say they have job openings they could not fill, 22 points higher than the 48-year historical average, and two points higher than the 42% figure from March.
April is the third consecutive month with a record-high reading of unfilled job openings among small businesses, according to NFIB.
Even though most experts believe unemployment payments are suppressing the job pool, State Rep. David Cook of Globe has been pushing an increase in weekly benefits.
The federally-established Unemployment Insurance Benefits Program, administered by DES according to state law, provides unemployment benefits to persons unemployed through no fault of their own for up to 26 weeks and up to $540 per week or $2160 per month in untaxed paid benefit. During the COVID-19 crisis, beneficiaries did not have to prove they were actively looking for work.
That changed this week when Governor Ducey rescinded a March 2020 Executive Order that waived the requirement that an individual receiving employment benefits must be actively looking for work to receive the benefits.
Other governors are getting more aggressive in getting residents back to work. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, citing a workforce shortage, announced he will use funds from the American Rescue Plan to incentivize people to become employed.
“While small businesses are glad to see Gov. Doug Ducey re-instating the active work search requirement to qualify for continued state unemployment benefits, more work needs to be done to get able workers off the unemployment rolls and back into one of the many available jobs in the private sector,” said Chad Heinrich, NFIB’s Arizona state director in a press release. “With April also setting a new 12-month high in small businesses raising wages, and a full one-fifth of additional owners planning future wage increases, hopefully, the private sector will soon be able to compete with the overwhelming price the federal government is paying able-workers to sit on the sidelines.”
NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg says the “tight labor market is the biggest concern for small businesses who are competing with various factors such as supplemental unemployment benefits, childcare, and in-person school restrictions, and the virus. Many small business owners who are trying to hire are finding themselves unsuccessful and are having to delay the hiring or offer higher wages. Some owners are offering ‘show up’ bonuses for workers who agree to take the job and actually show up for work.”
On Friday, Ducey made a move to bring some relief on the childcare front by providing an additional $9 million in aid for child care providers throughout the state.
“Parents and families need access to safe, reliable, and high-quality child care, especially as Arizonans go back to work and job opportunities expand,” said Ducey. “With the additional funding announced today, we’re making sure more working families have access to that care. I’m grateful to all Arizonans working to ensure families and kids have the support and resources they need and am proud to celebrate Child Care Provider Appreciation Day.”
The CCWRR Grant Program provides immediate support to child care providers in hiring qualified staff and retaining existing staff. This grant program will help all regulated child care providers with recruitment and retention costs to support the child care workforce in Arizona. These funds are made available to Arizona through the Child Care and Development Fund CARES Act, 2020.
Child care centers and group homes must use grant funds for salaries and benefits for employees, and bonus incentives for hiring and retention. Group homes and family child care homes without staff, grant funds may be utilized for a variety of expenses including licensing fees, liability insurance, tuition and registration relief for families, lease and mortgage payments, utilities, classroom materials, and supplies.
While child care providers must apply and attest that they are open and providing child care services at the time of application and for the duration of the grant, grants are not competitive. Grant awards will be paid in one sum amount, with the distribution of payments initiated on June 24, 2021. Child care providers will have until September 30, 2021, to spend the grant funds.
In addition to the CCWRR Grant, the Department has also extended the Essential Workers Child Care Relief Scholarship through June 30, 2021, allowing essential workers and child care providers access to vital child care.
On Monday, Governor Doug Ducey rescinded a March 2020 Executive Order that waived the requirement that an individual receiving employment benefits must be actively looking for work in order to receive the benefits. Arizonans receiving unemployment benefits may continue to receive benefits, but under reinstated requirements, must show that they are actively looking for work.
The move was hailed by employers struggling to find employees.
According to the Governor’s Office, Arizona’s labor force currently is 100.09 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, with more people employed in Arizona than before the pandemic.
Businesses are struggling to fill positions, especially those in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. The Governor’s Executive Order is intended to help fill those low-wage jobs.
TODAY: I issued an Executive Order to meet surging job demand and support job creators throughout Arizona as employment opportunities grow and the #COVID19 vaccine is available for anyone who wants it. 1/
The Arizona Department of Economic Security will begin enforcing the reinstated requirement the week of Sunday, May 23.
“A year out from the start of the pandemic, jobs and vaccines are readily available,” said Ducey. “Arizonans are ready to get back to work. Our economy is booming, jobs need filling, more than 2 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated, and vaccination appointments are available to anyone who wants one.”
“As President Reagan said, the best social program is a job,” the Governor added. “This statement rings true today. Unemployment benefits are still available to Arizonans who need them, but now that plenty of jobs are available, those receiving the benefits should be actively looking for work.”
“Southern Arizona businesses made many adjustments and sacrifices to weather the economic effects of the pandemic,” said Tucson Metro Chamber President and CEO Amber Smith. “Businesses cannot afford to weather another storm unable to fill positions. Now that vaccines are out far and wide, many businesses are scaling back up looking for employees. It’s important that we work to meet this job demand and get the word out that a variety of jobs are available.”
A February report released by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity is projecting strong job growth in the state over the next two years, with the largest gains happening in sectors hit hardest by the pandemic. Arizona is expected to gain more than 325,000 jobs between spring 2020 and the same time next year, a 5.5 percent annualized growth rate.
“Arizona continues to be a top travel destination for leisure visitors,” said Arizona Office of Tourism Director Debbie Johnson. “The tourism industry was hard-hit by the pandemic, but now that we have a better understanding of the virus and more people have been vaccinated, visitors are returning to Arizona for our unbeatable outdoor recreation, top-notch restaurants, beautiful lodging and more. With this increase in demand, the tourism industry has jobs to fill to keep up. I’m encouraged to see how far we’ve come from this time last year, and I’m looking forward to the return of strong tourism employment in Arizona.”
Additionally, the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity in March released an employment report showing more than 16,000 jobs had been added back in the state. Also, an April article from AZ Big Media shows Arizona is among the top five most recovered states for unemployment.
“The Arizona Department of Economic Security throughout the pandemic has worked hard to ensure benefits are distributed timely, and that the needs of families and individuals are met,” said Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Michael Wisehart. “Arizona’s economy continues to strengthen and employers are looking for talent. Businesses have implem