Unemployment claims are down in Alabama; what’s behind the decrease?

10% of Ala. unemployment claims not resolved

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Unemployment numbers are out again, and less people in Alabama are filing claims. But what’s behind this decrease?

ADOL said there may be several reasons for that decrease: obviously, many people are going back to work, and the department has gotten better at detecting fraud. But we’re still hearing about people who have never been able to get through to file claims and receive payments.

Just over 89% of those with active unemployment benefits and claims have received payments in Alabama.

“We have paid out almost $3 billion in unemployment compensation claims, so the money has gone out there,” said Public Information Officer, Alabama Department of Labor, Kelly Betts.

“We still have a percentage that has not been paid out and there are several issues with those claims,” Betts said.

That means more than 10% of claimants still haven’t received money since the pandemic started nearly five months ago.

Betts said issues like verifying how a person was separated from their job has been a big issue at the department.

Such cases can take longer to process because they must go through the legal process to be resolved.

“Each claim is different, and every claim has to be handled by a UC specialist. Call, leave a message, don’t continue to call. Call once, and your call will be returned within 8 to 10 working days. That’s the most efficient way to get results,” Betts explained.

This week, the department witnessed the lowest number of claims in the state since March, but that could be because less people qualify for benefits.

“So, we’ve seen it constantly going down over the past few months. Obviously, there’s a lot of factors involved with that. It remains to be seen just how much of that is affected by the expiration of the FPUC funding,” Betts said.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC, was an additional $600 authorized by Congress for those out of job.

That benefit ended July 25th.

When asked how much of the decrease in claims is due in part to people just giving up on filing, Betts said, “That’s completely subjective and you can’t put a number on that.”

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