Out of work and running out of money. That is where many Alabamians find themselves in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of Alabamians are turning to the state’s unemployment compensation program for help.
“I can’t get through to anyone,” said Joseph Jackson.
Joseph Jackson was laid off from his construction job in early March when COVID-19 first made its way to Alabama. He received two weeks of unemployment then hit a roadblock when filing his weekly claim certification.
“They webpage worded it at as potentially disqualifying,” said Jackson.
Jackson was instructed to call the department of labor.
“Today alone I called them 41 times,” he said.
Jackson says the call answers with the automated message: ‘We are currently experiencing an extremely high call load. Please try your call again later.’
He’s not the only one having issues with the system. Anthony Carrithers filed for unemployment on March 23rd and is still waiting on benefits.
“I got a letter from them last week saying this is how much your checks going to be,” said Carrithers.
Carrithers says he still doesn’t have a check and bills are stacking up.
“You still got bills to pay irregardless if that check comes or not,” said Carrithers.
He knows he’s not the only one having issues with the unemployment system and says it’s something the state needs to work harder to address.
“For all these years we put money into the system so we’ll have it. And now it’s like we aren’t getting it,” said Carrithers.
The Alabama Department of Labor asks that people have patience with them during this time. But those in need of those benefits say patience won’t feed their families or pay their mortgage.
“Make a plan, get a better plan,” said Jackson.
WDHN’s sister station WHNT News 19 reached out to the department of labor for updated numbers claims been received and granted. They plan to release the numbers when the department responds.