Select Page

In times of economic downturn, many individuals find themselves facing unemployment unexpectedly. Arizona provides a safety net through unemployment benefits for those who find themselves out of work. This guide aims to demystify the process and criteria for obtaining unemployment benefits in the state of Arizona, presenting the information in an accessible manner suitable for high school students and others seeking to understand their rights and responsibilities.

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) is responsible for handling unemployment claims within the state. To be considered for unemployment benefits, applicants must meet specific criteria:

  • Unemployed Through No Fault of Their Own: This includes those who have been laid off due to downsizing, a reduction in workforce, or if the company ceased operations. Additionally, if you were let go because the position was not a good fit or due to lack of necessary skills, you might still qualify.
  • Minimum Earnings Requirement: Before losing your job, you must have earned a certain amount of money during a specific period, known as the base period. This ensures that only those who have contributed to the workforce for a significant amount of time can claim benefits.
  • Able and Actively Seeking Work: You must be ready, willing, and able to work, and you must be actively searching for employment to qualify for ongoing benefits.

To apply for unemployment benefits, you can visit the DES website or call their designated phone line.

Example Scenario: Unemployment Through No Fault of Your Own

Imagine you worked for a company that recently had to downsize due to a shift in the market, and you lost your job as a result. In this case, you are unemployed through no fault of your own and may be eligible for unemployment benefits, provided you meet the other criteria.

Understanding the Minimum Earnings Requirement

Arizona determines your eligibility for unemployment benefits based on your earnings in the base period, typically the first four of the five complete calendar quarters before your claim. You must have earned at least 390 times the Arizona minimum wage in the highest-earning quarter of your base period or have a total of at least $7,000 over two quarters within your base period, with $5,987.50 being in one quarter.

The Importance of Being Available and Actively Searching for Work

To remain eligible for unemployment benefits, you must be actively seeking work and ready to accept a suitable job offer. “Suitable” employment is defined by considering your previous employment, the pay, and the skills required for the new position.

Normally, beneficiaries are required to provide weekly updates on their job search efforts to the DES. However, adjustments may be made in response to significant economic disruptions, temporarily waiving the active job search requirement while still necessitating the filing of weekly claims to verify eligibility.


Unemployment benefits serve as a crucial support system for individuals who find themselves without work through no fault of their own. Understanding the eligibility criteria, how to apply, and the obligations of beneficiaries is essential for anyone navigating unemployment. Arizona’s Department of Economic Security provides resources and assistance to those affected, ensuring that residents have access to the support they need during challenging times. Remember, these benefits are not just financial support; they are a bridge to your next opportunity in the workforce.

J. Horowitz
J. Horowitz

J. Horowitz leverages over two decades of experience as a seasoned employment law attorney in Arizona to offer insightful freelance writing on the same subject. After a successful career advocating for fairness and justice in the workplace, J. now dedicates his expertise to writing comprehensive articles, blog posts, and thought leadership pieces that illuminate the complexities of employment law.