unemployment benefits

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona is reporting a significant spike in new unemployment claims, but many are believed to be fraudulent, 3 On Your Side has learned.

According to data from the Arizona Department of Economic Security, more than 100,000 new regular unemployment insurance claims were filed for the past two weeks; 60,775 for the week ending Jan. 30, and 41,487 for the week ending Jan. 23. The number of weekly initial unemployment claims had ranged between 6,285 and 15,561 since August, data shows.

Brett Bezio, a spokesperson for DES, said the sharp increase in initial unemployment claims is the result of fraud.

“Many of these fraudulent claims do not result in a payment since we continue to identify suspicious activity among claims while working diligently to ensure eligible claimants continue to receive critical assistance,” Bezio wrote in an emailed statement. “These detection measures and identity verification have also helped to combat fraud within the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The Department remains vigilant in preventing it within our UI systems, as fraud continues to be a nationwide concern.”

Last week, 4,679 new claims for PUA were filed in the state. The program, which provides benefits to people who do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance, has paid out $8.8 billion since May.


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