Unemployment claims still at record high

Alabama Department of Labor implements eSIDES program

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Labor is still being hit hard by an increased volume of calls about unemployment claims.

In early June, the department was receiving over 200,000 calls per day.

Communications Director Tara Hutchison says now they receive about 150,000 calls per day, which is still way more than they can handle.

The two primary reasons why so many people are not seeing their checks come through have not changed since the financial crisis hit.

Claimants are still not completing their certifications every week either online or via phone, and employers either aren’t responding or challenging the worker’s claim.

To make the process easier, the department recently implemented a program called eSIDES.

That allows the claimant to complete a questionnaire about their unemployment status, and allows the employers to respond electronically to that claim.

Hutchison says this digital system speeds up the process for everyone.

In fact, the department is already seeing increased adjudication numbers, meaning decisions on claims are being completed much faster than before.

Individuals can sign up for the program on the state department of labor website.

Hutchison says it’s too soon to see the effect of the expiration of the $600 federal unemployment payments, but her team knows what to do if things get worse.

“Every one of our staffers are hearing these claimant stories every day and some of them are absolutely heartbreaking. We understand that this pandemic… I mean it basically came on us overnight. We were experiencing a record low unemployment rate and then within a week to two weeks now we are record high unemployment. So we certainly understand and we are doing everything we can to help those who are eligible for assistance,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison says the in-person appointments in Montgomery have been efficient and also sped up the waiting period.

The registration link to sign up for in-person appointments opens each Friday at 5 p.m.

Copyright 2020 WAFF. All rights reserved.