PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Gov. Doug Ducey defended his administration's handling of the state's rising unemployment and unemployment claims Thursday, as critics piled on complaints and some unemployed workers said their claims were stuck in limbo.

AZ investigating 'hundreds of thousands' of unemployment claims for fraud

"All things considered, they are working and doing their best in incredibly challenging circumstances," said Ducey of the employees of the Department of Economic Security, who are in charge of disbursing unemployment benefits.

Arizona's unemployment rate jumped to 10.6% in July. The state has distributed more than $8.8 billion in state and federal unemployment aid to more than 1 million Arizona residents.

But the email and complaint line at Arizona's Family has been filled with stories from people who say they were wrongly denied benefits and cannot get ahold of anyone at DES to figure out what went wrong.

Jobless Arizonans react to Trump's unemployment benefit executive order

"It's a busy signal every time you call. I have called probably a couple hundred times since the beginning," said Matthew Standerfer, who says he applied for benefits after a new job disappeared because of the pandemic.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

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