map showing the state of unemployment throughout Arizona

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on our society. While the death toll continues to rise, the preventative measures in place to minimize that death toll have had an enormous impact on the national and local economies. One measure of that impact has been job loss. From record low unemployment levels early in 2020 to record increases in weekly unemployment claims, the impact of the pandemic on employment figures is staggering.

In partnership with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the Maricopa Association of Governments has mapped by zip code the number of Arizona unemployment insurance claims filed since the start of stay-at-home orders in Arizona, between March 14, 2020 and March 24, 2022. This is an aggregate count of unduplicated initial claims; some of these may not be ongoing at this time. As would be expected, the zip codes with the largest numbers are seen in the areas with the largest populations, like the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas, and areas in and around Flagstaff, Yuma, Prescott, and Kingman. However, there are no areas in the state that have escaped being hit by job loss.

Around the Phoenix metro area, the zip codes with the highest numbers of unemployment claims are in and around Tempe north of Baseline Rd, east Phoenix around the Phoenix Mountains and Paradise Valley Mall, south Scottsdale, the area surrounding Arrowhead Towne Center mall, and in south Chandler along Arizona Ave. The north Tempe zip code 85281 saw more than 12,000 unemployment claims during that time, the most of any zip code in the region.

In addition to unemployment insurance claims, MAG has also mapped total claimants issued at least one week of benefits by zip code between February 25, 2022 and March 24, 2022. The benefits paid maps capture continuing unemployment filings, which is a more reliable and stable data point than initial unemployment claims because there is a process of verification that excludes any fraudulent or ineligible claims. Similar to the unemployment claims maps, these maps also show that zip codes with the largest populations have a larger numbers of claimants receiving benefits.

MAG has created maps for both Arizona and the MAG region. Each geography has one map that shows the total number of unemployment claims by zip code, and another that shows the number of unemployment claims as a percentage of each civilian workforce living in each zip code.

Maps: Arizona and MAG Region Unemployment Claims, March 14, 2020 to March 24, 2022

Maps: Arizona and MAG Region Benefits Paid, February 25, 2022 to March 24, 2022

Chart: Total Unemployment Claims Since March 14, 2020

Chart: New Unemployment Claims Since May 1, 2020