By Joshua Huff, sports editor
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Department of Labor announced on Monday that the agency has distributed more than $160 million in COVID-19 related unemployment benefits since the middle of March.
The agency has disbursed $164,523,955 to 103,453 individuals from March 16 to April 18, 2020, Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said. Of that $164 million, $132,328,900 comes from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Fund, which is the $600 stimulus benefit added upon the weekly unemployment benefits.
“ADOL is working hard to get these important benefits out to Alabamians in this tremendous time of need,” Washington said. “More than $164 million in benefits have been pushed out to those who have become unemployed due to this pandemic. 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 agency has recently launched a new online program that will help people track their claims. Washington added that the state will also add a new call center with more than 60 additional staffers to alleviate the volume.
“We understand the frustration people have with difficulty in contacting us, and I urge everyone to please remain patient, and know that we are working to address your questions,” Washington said.
The claim tracker can be accessed here.
ADOL announced on Friday that the state’s unemployment rate has risen to 3.5% following February’s record low level of 2.7%. March’s rate represents 2,138,541 employed persons, down 24,216 over the year.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 2.5%, Morgan, Marshall, and Madison Counties at 2.8%, and Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Limestone and Cullman Counties at 2.9%. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 9.6%, Clarke County at 6.7% and Greene County at 6.2%.