74K filed Alabama unemployment claims in 1 week

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 1:33 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Preliminary numbers from the Alabama Department of Labor show about 74,000 unemployment claims were filed in the state during just a one week period from March 22-28.

That brings the total claims filed in March to about 88,000. That compares to just 5,000 claims filed in February.

The spike occurred after businesses laid off employees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ADOL spokesperson Tara Hutchison described the last several weeks as a tsunami of claims, adding the department "has never seen a situation like this.”

The state’s server can’t handle the surge, leaving some people unable to file a claim.

Cullman resident Victoria Miller hasn’t been able to file a claim for two weeks after her two jobs let her go because of the economic impact from COVID-19.

Miller said she is holding on by a prayer.

“If I pay my rent on the first of the month, then that’s going to deplete my bank account, which is going to leave me with no money," Miller admitted.

Thousands of Alabamians are encountering a similar situation. The department said its IT staff is working seven days a week to beef up the server.

“We hear your concerns," Hutchison said. “We hear your complaints. We do understand your frustration. But we ask if they could please be patient. We’re all in this together.”

Hutchison suggests people try filing at early morning hours when fewer people are on the website.

She also said a person will still receive benefits for the days after losing a job even though they were not immediately able to file a claim. But, she continued, after filing a claim it would take up to 21 days to receive those wages.

A filer will not receive a notice saying they were approved. They would only receive a notice if they were not approved.

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