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Unemployment claims continue to tick up amid pandemic

The Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) for the last few weeks has released weekly unemployment numbers, showing the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on workers and businesses.

Last week, nearly 81,000 people filed for unemployment benefits across the state, with more than 74,800 of those claims related to the ongoing public health crisis.

In Dallas County, 460 people filed for unemployment benefits last week, marking a sharp increase compared to the two previous weeks.

For the week ending March 21, nearly 11,000 people filed for unemployment benefits, including only 48 from Dallas County; the week before that, which ended March 14, less than 2,000 new claims were filed, including only 23 from Dallas County.

Dallas County, however, was far from seeing the biggest increases in unemployment claims – more than 4,600 workers filed unemployment claims in Baldwin County, nearly 2,00 filed claims in Calhoun, Etowah and Lee counties and more than 1,000 workers filed in Calhoun, Colbert, Cullman, Elmore, Houston, Limestone, Marshall, St. Clair, Talladega and Walker counties.

The highest rates of claims came from counties where the coronavirus has struck the hardest in the state, including Jefferson County, which saw workers file more than 13,600 claims last week, Madison County, which saw more than 6,300 new unemployment claims filed, Mobile County filed more than 7,000 claims, Montgomery County filed nearly 4,000, Morgan and Shelby counties both filed more than 2,400 and Tuscaloosa County saw more than 5,400 claims filed.

The climb from 23 new unemployment claims to 460 over the course of two weeks indicates that the current outbreak is having far-reaching effects on the state’s economy – according to an ADOL press release, all industries in the state experienced an increase in unemployment claims.

The majority of claims, 14,752, were filed by employees in the Accommodation and Food Services sector, followed by INA, with 17,860 claims filed, as well as claim increases in the Healthcare and Social Assistance sector, 6,254, Remediation Services sector, 5,486, Retail Trade, 4,996, and Manufacturing, 11,032.

Earlier this week, ADOL encouraged workers to file for unemployment benefits under the recently-passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which, along with allocating direct payments to all Americans, vastly expanded unemployment benefits for workers laid-off as a result of the pandemic.

Labor representatives have called on people to be patient as they try to file unemployment benefits as offices have been overwhelmed with the volume of people seeking relief.