By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Nearly 29,000 Alabamians filed initial unemployment claims the week of April 26-May 2, with 19,452 of those claims related to COVID-19, the Alabama Department of Labor said Thursday.
Claims hit a record high at 106,739 the week ending April 4 and nearly 450,000 claims have been filed since efforts to control the coronavirus began restricting businesses’ operations in mid-March.
According to ADOL’s website, initial claims “includes individuals who filed first-time claims as well as additional claims filed by individuals as a result of a new unemployment event.” These include claims that are still being reviewed for eligibility, and counts for initial claims are not indicative of the number of claims that will result in monetary compensation.
Jefferson County had the largest number of initial jobless claims last week with 3,985 followed by Mobile County, 3,353 claims; Madison County, 1,964; Montgomery County 1,665; and Baldwin County, 1,280.
Despite the high number of unemployment claims, relief is finding its way into the pockets of those Alabamians who need it.
The ADOL announced on Monday that it had disbursed more than $503 million in COVID-19 related unemployment compensation benefits to 84% of claimants.
“We continue to work on a daily basis to improve the systems to make them more efficient and to streamline payments,” said ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “We hear the complaints and take them seriously. ADOL is working around the clock to ensure that everyone who is entitled to these funds receives them. Even though we’ve made payments to 84% of those who have filed, we know there are many still waiting, and you have not been forgotten.”
ADOL is now paying benefits under all three programs covered in the CARES Act: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
“Following last week’s release of the new PUA app, we were able to get a good deal of those benefits out in a faster manner,” Washington said. “Additionally, those who have exhausted their unemployment claims are now seeing payments.”
Nationally, almost 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week according to the Associated Press. Since the coronavirus began ravaging the economy seven weeks ago, about 33.5 million have applied for jobless benefits.