By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala – Nearly 75,000 Alabamians filed initial unemployment claims the week of April 19-25, 62,448 of which are related to COVID-19, the Alabama Department of Labor reported.
That brings the five-week total from March 22 to April 25 to 406,636 total claims, 362,240 of them connected to the coronavirus’ impact on Alabama.
Manufacturing jobs accounted for 6,932 of last week’s claims, followed by accommodations and food services with 6,279 and retail trade with 4,980. Health care and social assistance accounted for 4,349 of the claims.
Jefferson County had the largest number of claims with 11,878, followed by Mobile County, 8,257; Madison County 5,615; Baldwin County, 4,099; and Montgomery County, 3,859.
Earlier this week, ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said the department had disbursed more than $372 million in unemployment compensation benefits. The state is now paying benefits under all three federal programs covered under the CARES Act: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation; Pandemic Unemployment Assistance; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
“Alabama is one of the first states in the nation to pay all of the new programs enacted by Congress with passage of the CARES Act,” Washington said in a written statement. “More than $370 million in benefits has been disbursed to date, helping Alabamians recover much needed funds lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As of Monday, ADOL had issued payments to 64% of those filing COVID-19 related claims since March 16.
“We know that many people have still not been paid, and we understand that frustration,” he said. “We are listening to the complaints and concerns and continue to work to modify our systems to make them more user friendly, and to make this process move faster. We continue to ask for patience as we work expeditiously.”
To further help those whose employment was affected by the pandemic, the ADOL has launched AlabamaWorks, the new free online jobs database that is replacing Alabama JobLink.
According to the ADOL, AlabamaWorks will offer the same services as JobLink but with added features such as a smartphone application.
“ADOL is constantly looking at new ways to connect employers and job seekers. This new database and its mobile app is a big step in that direction,” Washington said.
According to the ADOL, this transition is the result of an ongoing effort for more than two years and is unrelated to any COVID-19 response, nor were any COVID-19 dedicated funds used for the new website.