MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Within the past few weeks, Alabama has seen a record-shattering number of unemployment claims.
“We’ve accepted more than 230,000 claims over the past three weeks,” explained Tara Hutchison with the Alabama Department of Labor. “That’s about 100,000 more than we accepted for all of 2019.”
The State Department of Labor’s unemployment claim website has been overwhelmed but improvements have been made.
“I understand that there may still be some pockets and sometimes when there’s some overload but overall if the website is performing significantly better than it has been,” Hutchison added.
But the wait for payment may still be less than ideal for some families.
“It can take up to 21 days,” said Hutchinson. “They should also know that we will be able to pay multiple weeks at one time.”
An Alabama human rights advocacy group encourages citizens to be patient.
“We’re looking at the scope and pace of unemployment that most of us have just never seen before,” said Chris Sanders of Alabama Arise.
So what does this need for financial assistance look like in the state right now? Sanders said some people are struggling.
“Where’s their next meal going to come from? How are they going to pay the rent or the mortgage? Do they even have a home to go back to at all?” he said. “There are a lot of folks who are in just incredibly dire straits right now.”
Sanders said the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on a number of areas that need improvement and the ties that bind us
“The wellbeing of any of us is tied inextricably to the wellbeing of all of us,” he explained. “So you know we need to be looking to ensure that everyone has the ability to get back to make ends meet, to provide for their families.”
The Department of Labor said it continues to work to meet the needs of Alabamians, even going as far as looking to outsource to keep up with demand.
On top of state unemployment insurance payments, the Federal Department of Labor will soon begin issuing $600 in addition to unemployment funds to those out of work as a direct result of COVID-19.