February 13, 2009

Arizona DES orders workers to take unpaid time off

Despite rising demand for unemployment benefits and food stamps, the Department of Economic Security on Thursday announced furloughs for 9,000 employees and said “a significant number” of layoffs are imminent.

The cost-cutting moves, which officials said would affect nearly every service the department provides, come in response to more than $90 million in cuts to the department’s budget last month.

One silver lining to the announcement: The Unemployment Insurance Benefit Program will not be significantly affected by the cuts, officials said. Those workers’ salaries are paid with federal funds, and they will not be subject to the furloughs.

Still, the agency has been overwhelmed with requests for unemployment benefits, sometimes receiving 8,000 calls per hour. Arizona lost 115,000 jobs statewide last year.

Source: The Arizona Republic

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