Business owners relieved as Gov. Ivey announces end to extra unemployment benefits

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Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A new state decision will affect some 80,000 people on unemployment.

On June 19, Alabama is pulling the plug on federal boosts to unemployment, including that extra $300 a week for those collecting benefits.

Driving around north Alabama, now hiring signs aren’t hard to find, which is one of the reasons Governor Ivey announced she’s putting a stop to the $300 a week in additional unemployment.

The pandemic unemployment programs mean Alabamians have been getting up to $575 a week in unemployment for up to 54 weeks due to the pandemic, as opposed to standard unemployment benefits capping out at $275 a week for only 14 weeks.

“Two years ago, pre-covid we would have a busy Saturday night and we would have 14 people working. I’ve got eight or nine, if I’m lucky, now,” Stan Stinson said.

Stan Stinson, owner of multiple local restaurants including Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza says it’s been a major challenge getting enough staffing to serve his customers.

“At my barbecue place at Stovehouse, we’re closed on Mondays now because I don’t have the staff to run continuous operations,” he explained.

Other business owners place most of the blame on the additional weekly unemployment benefits, including the Alabama Department of Labor and Governor Ivey, who says in part, “increased unemployment assistance, which was meant to be a short-term relief program during emergency-related shutdowns, is now contributing to a labor shortage that is compromising the continuation of our economic recovery.”

ADOL has paid out more than $5 billion in claims in the last year, which is more money than the last 12 years combined with the help of those federal dollars.

Alabama Senator Arthur Orr says he understands there are valid reasons for some people not returning to work, but he thinks some concerns shouldn’t be around anymore.

“The child concerns, the fear concerns of catching the virus, with the vaccines now widespread, getting down to the lower ages, you should not be seeing this fear among the general folks out there, we just need to get back to work as a state,” Orr said.

The Alabama Department of Labor will continue paying out the additional $300 a week for new claims filed before June 19th. By the way, Alabama’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the southeast right now, at 3.8%.

If you are looking for work, but don’t know where to start, help might be closer than you think!

There are 53 different Career Centers across the state to help you. They have coaches on-site to help you with your resume, job searching tools and can connect you to employers.

Before you visit a career center, you’re asked to write down descriptions of your previous jobs. From there, someone will help you find a job matching your skill sets.

“We’ll sit down and do an interview with you we will go over everything we have to help you. I would just encourage people to come in and let us help. We are a free service to you and that to me is huge,” Melissa Anderson, senior manager at Career Center Decatur said.

Anderson says walk-ins are welcomed Monday through Friday.

Click here to find the closest career center to you.

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