Gov. Doug Ducey announced May 13 a three-part “Arizona Back to Work” program to incentivize residents to get off unemployment benefits and fill one of the state’s 160,000 to 180,000 open jobs.

The program features return-to-work bonuses as well as education incentives and child care for returning workers.

Ducey also said the state will not take federal money for supplemental unemployment benefits effective July 10.

“In Arizona, we’re going to use federal money to encourage people to work, instead of paying people not to work,” he said in a statement announcing the program.

Ducey said he does not want unemployment benefits to be a barrier to people returning to work as businesses struggle to fill positions.


Under the program, Arizona will set aside $300 million of federal resources to offer a one-time bonus of $2,000 for eligible individuals returning to work in a full-time position. Those getting part-time work will receive $1,000.

To receive the bonus, a worker must have left the unemployment insurance bonus and complete at least 10 weeks of work with an employer. The bonuses will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

People filing for unemployment after May 13 will not be eligible for the bonus. The individual also must make $25 per hour or less in their new job and must begin work by Labor Day, which falls Sept. 6 this year.

For the education incentives, the state will provide $7.5 million in community college scholarships for unemployed workers who are eligible for return-to-work bonuses and another $6 million for GED test preparation and exam fees for those without a high school diploma.


Finally, the state will provide three months of child care assistance for children of individuals who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits. The eligibility requirements include the individual having had to have already filed for unemployment and earn $25 an hour or less at their new job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the state having 160,000 to 180,000 jobs available while the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity estimates the state will add nearly 550,000 jobs by 2029.

“There is dignity in work,” Ducey said. “Ronald Reagan said the best social program is a job. I agree with that.”