State sees drastic increase in unemployment claims, launches claims tracker

As the number of unemployment claims filed has increased drastically because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Alabama has launched a claims tracker.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced that ADOL has disbursed more than $164 million in COVID-19 related unemployment compensation benefits.

$164,523,955 has been paid to 103,453 claimants over the period covering March 16 through April 18, 2020. This represents 227,358 weeks paid.

“ADOL is working hard to get these important benefits out to Alabamians in this tremendous time of need. More than $164 million in benefits have been pushed out to those who have become unemployed due to this pandemic,” Washington said. “We know that there are many who have yet to be paid, and we are working to get those claims processed quickly. It’s important to note that it can take up to 21 business days to process a claim, and with the added record-setting volume, it may take longer in some cases.

The new online tool enables claimants to see the status of their claim, tell them what the next steps are, and what to expect from the department.

It covers the following topics: What is My Claim Status? What Happens Next? When Will I Get Paid? What Have I Already Been Paid?

“We have been working constantly to come up with innovative ways to help Alabamians get the answers they need during this period of uncertainty,” Washington said. “We hope that this tool will help people find the information they need without them having to spend hours trying to contact us. We continue to urge patience as we are dealing with record numbers of unemployment compensation claims.”

The UI Claims Tracker can be located at UIClaimsTracker.labor.alabama.gov/. Additionally, information and FAQs can be found at ADOL’s COVID-19 resource page at Labor.Alabama.gov/newsfeed/News_CovID19.aspx.

Users need their login information (Social Security Number and PIN) to access the tool.

ADOL released the official count for initial claims filed during the week of April 5 through April 11. 77,515 initial claims were filed either online or by telephone during this time period. 71,374 of those claims are COVID-19 related.

The number of claims is a dramatic increase from 1,824 claims the week of March 14.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted March unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, up from February’s record low level of 2.7 percent, and above March 2019’s rate of 3.3 percent.

March’s rate represents 2,138,541 employed persons, down 24,216 over the year.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were: Shelby County at 2.5 percent, Morgan, Marshall and Madison Counties at 2.8 percent, and Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Limestone, and Cullman Counties at 2.9 percent.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 9.6 percent, Clarke County at 6.7 percent, and Greene County at 6.2 percent.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Vestavia Hills at 2 percent, Homewood at 2.2 percent, and Northport and Hoover at 2.3 percent.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Selma at 6.8 percent, Prichard at 6.2 percent, and Gadsden at 5.3 percent.

Officials noted that the impact of COVID-19 will not be fully evident in the March report, due to the fact that the majority of closings and layoffs occurred during the week of March 16.

The unemployment rate is measured during the week of March 12.

April’s unemployment rate, scheduled to be published on May 22, will more accurately reflect the impact of COVID-19 on Alabama’s economy.