Article first appeared at azcentral.com.
Arizona paid more than half a billion dollars in jobless benefits last week as the Department of Economic Security caught up with weeks worth of retroactive benefits for thousands of self-employed people, contractors, and others who don't normally qualify for assistance.
The $519 million in total benefits paid to 468,000 people easily eclipsed the prior week's $160 million in payments as the DES compensates the crush of applicants who have lost jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, and Congress adding $600 a week to benefits across the country, Arizona paid about $3 million a week in jobless benefits and saw abut 4,000 new applications.
DES last week began reviewing applications and making payments to self-employed people, contractors, workers with insufficient earnings history and others through a program called "pandemic unemployment assistance" that Congress approved to deal with the fallout from the pandemic.
The department said it approved more than 165,000 people to receive PUA benefits as of last week.