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Arizona's Unemployment Trust Fund Running Low

The state’s fund to pay for unemployment benefits is getting depleted. If you’re filing for unemployment insurance when the fund runs out, you will still get paid. But it will put the state in a complicated budgeting situation.

Each state has its own trust fund for unemployment insurance, paid for by payroll taxes. At the start of the pandemic, Arizona had $1.1 billion in its fund. That’s now down to $400 million. With hundreds of thousands of Arizonans still out of work, the fund has only about eight weeks of solvency left.

Michael Wisehart with the Department of Economic Security said, when funds run dry, states can borrow from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“But you have to pay that money back through taxes on employers going forward. So, from a policy perspective, in the state we continue to have dialogue about the implications of that reality," Wisehart said. 

Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said it is closely monitoring the situation and will have options, including using CARES Act funding, when the fund runs out.

Nineteen states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have already started borrowing from the federal government for unemployment payments.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.