First-time claims for unemployment in Arizona last week were lower than the week before but still reflected a slowing economy. More than 87,000 people filed first-time claims for the week ending May 23.
The number of people continuing to claim unemployment in Arizona is still rising. For the last full week of May, 601,000 received benefits. The spike in numbers in recent weeks is tied to the state allowing the self-employed to file for benefits for the first time.
Arizona's unemployment numbers began to climb in early March as the economy slowed due to the advance of the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order at the end of March caused the numbers to climb more.
Government leaders and economists hope that the easing of business restrictions in recent weeks will bring people back to the work force as businesses continue to slowly reopen.
Arizona has paid out nearly $1.5 billion in unemployment benefits this year. Those payments include a $600 per week payment from the federal government as part of the CARES Act.