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Secretary of Labor explains Alabama pandemic unemployment benefit cessation

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama joined several other states including Montana, South Carolina and Mississippi in creating a deadline to receive federal pandemic unemployment funds.

70,000 Alabamians will stop receiving $300 a week as part of that program beginning June 19.

Birmingham’s unemployment rates has hovered below the state, reported at 3.2 percent in March compared to 3.8 percent statewide.

This time last year, unemployment in Alabama had climbed to 7.1 percent, peaking at 11 percent at the height of the pandemic, a sharp spike after record low unemployment.

“Ten years of economic hard work down the drain, seemingly overnight, said State Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington. He also says the Alabama Department of Labor has paid out 5 billion in the past year alone.

“That’s more benefits that we’ve paid in the last 12 months than in the last 12 years combined,” said Washington.

He believes ending federal assistance will help industries like food service and factories recover.

“This is a national thing, it’s definitely the case in Alabama, just drive around and you’ll see now hiring and now interviewing, various signs offering signing bonuses,” said Ty West, Editor of the Birmingham Business Journal.

Statewide, businesses have been calling for the pandemic assistance to end.

“Over the past few months, we’ve been hearing more and more from businesses that can’t find workers,” said Washington.

“Our restaurants have been struggling to find talent,” added West.

They both say business owners hope that reducing unemployment benefits will bring workers back into buildings.

Everyone with a claim will be notified of the changes directly.

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