This time, however, families and businesses that fall into dire straits are at risk of even greater financial trauma: Nearly 1 million Arizonans, for example, are set to lose extra money in unemployment assistance after this week, leaving them with benefits that are much lower than most other states.
“If that happens, it will spell financial disaster for us,” said Erlynne Campbell, a 47-year-old resident of Phoenix who lost her bookkeeping job in March and then struggled for months just to cash her first unemployment check.
“I obediently stayed home and filed for unemployment,” she said, “and trusted I would be provided for in the time frame we needed to stay home to stay safe.”
In Arizona’s turmoil, local leaders and economic experts said they see a cautionary tale with national import: Those that try to prioritize their economic recovery over public health in the middle of the pandemic are at risk of undermining both.
“Our economy in Arizona, like other states, was tanking,” said James Hodge, the director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University. “There was unquestioned political apathy or political backlash toward what was considered heavy-handed government interventions.”