By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabamians filed 331,670 unemployment claims in a four-week period that began in mid-March, the Alabama Department of Labor said Thursday.
During the week of April 12-18, 66,432 initial unemployment claims were made, 59,527 were related to loss of work because of the coronavirus, according to ADOL.
Manufacturing jobs accounted for 9,770 of those claims, followed by accommodations and food services with 6,685 and retail trade with 5,540. Health care and social assistance accounted for 5,367 of the claims.
Jefferson County saw the largest amount of initial claims with 9,611, followed by Mobile County with 6,708, Madison County with 4,528, Montgomery County with 3,479, and Baldwin County with 3,221.
As unemployment claims continue to roll in, the ADOL is reminding claimants that in order to stay eligible for benefits, those who have been placed on a temporary layoff related to the COVID-19 pandemic must return to work if called back.
Anyone who does not return to a job when work is available could be considered a “refusal of work” and could disqualify claimants from receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
“It’s important for workers to know that if their employer reopens or otherwise calls them back to work, they must do so, unless they have a good work-related cause for not returning,” said ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “Quitting work without good cause to obtain additional benefits under the regular unemployment program or CARES Act programs qualifies as fraud.”
The federal CARES Act provides some unemployed people an additional $600 a week in unemployment through July.
The CARES Act provides for consequences for fraudulent cases including fines, confinement, and an inability to receive future unemployment benefits until all fraudulent claims and fines have been repaid. Employers are encouraged to use the New Hire system to report employees who fail to return to work. Information about the New Hire System can be found at labor.alabama.gov/nh/new-hire.aspx.