The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to add Alabamians to the state’s unemployment rolls.
Another 77,515 Alabamians filed an initial jobless claim last week, bringing the total since the week ending March 14 up to 279,431, or about 12.5 percent of the state’s total labor force in February 2020.
The number of people who filed a jobless claim during the past four weeks is far more than at any point since at least 1987. The U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment claims data only goes back to 1987 for Alabama.
The surge of jobless claims is unprecedented in American history. The Great Recession played out much more slowly with job losses spread out over the course of 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The Alabama Hospitality Association has estimated that some 225,000 hotel and restaurant workers will be laid off during the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, the Economic Policy Institute’s conservative projections estimated that nearly 200,000 people could lose their jobs in Alabama, and the reality has already far exceeded their projections.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. The total since March 14 for the United States is 22 million, or about 13.5 percent of the national labor force.
The jump in unemployment claims is straining agencies across the country including in Alabama. Alabamians have reported difficulty in filing claims, and the Alabama Department of Labor has repeatedly asked for “patience” as they try to work through the record number of unemployment claims.
The Department of Labor has launched a new unemployment claims tracker, which allows individuals to see the status of their claims.