MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - More than 400,000 Alabamians have filed unemployment claims, making for a busy period for the state agency handling those claims all at once.
We’ve heard about the heroes in this pandemic, including the medical professionals and first responders. Now you can add the employees from the Alabama Department of Labor.
Hundreds of employees are working in the basement of the Alabama Department of Labor giving it all they’ve got to help the unemployed in Alabama.
They are working overtime trying to get claims approved and send out unemployment checks every week on time. The work has been so overwhelming, Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington had to bring in about 100 additional personnel to help with the load.
On the technical side of things, it is an enormous responsibility.
“We’ve done everything we can do to get payments out as quick as possible," said Deputy IT Director John DeMas.
Despite their best efforts and putting in 15-hour days, the secretary is aware of the frustrations.
“It’s been a challenge. A lot of people filing claims right now have never filed a claim before and so we understand that. We try our best to put out information, step-by-step information to guide people through the process as easy as we possibly can," Washington said.
One reason Jennifer Jenkins stood in line at Cramton Bowl Wednesday was to see what’s going on with her benefits. So far, nothing, according to Jenkins.
“I have applied online and sent emails to the unemployment office,” said Jenkins, who was laid off recently from the retail industry.
Washington said before the pandemic the Alabama Department of Labor processed around 130,000 claims, far below what it is now.
ADOL employees have processed more than $500 million in state and federal benefits in just six weeks.