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Weekly claims spike in county

Weekly unemployment numbers shot up by more than 100 between the final report of 2020 and the first of 2021, according to numbers released by the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) Thursday.

This follows an announcement by the department earlier in the week that extended federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act benefits, including an additional $300 per week in unemployment compensation, would begin being paid out starting Jan. 3.

During the week ending Dec. 26, 2020, Dallas County registered 60 first-time unemployment claims, but that number spiked to 166 for the week ending Jan. 2, 2021, according to the ADOL report, the highest number the county has seen since the end of July when 195 first-time claims were filed.

That trend mirrors statewide numbers, which nearly doubled in the latest report, which showed 10,986 initial unemployment claims filed in the state last week compared to 5,506 during the final week of 2020.

According to the report, 8,734 of last week’s claims were related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which represents a significant increase in the percentage of claims filed due to the public health crisis – in the Dec. 31 report, less than half, 2,156, of the state’s 5,506 first-time unemployment claims were related to the pandemic; the latest report shows more than 80 percent of claims were related to the public health emergency.

Neighboring counties saw similar trends, with nearby Autauga County’s weekly claims jumping from 35 during the week of Dec. 26, 2020, to 131 last week, while Lowndes County’s numbers increased less dramatically from 13 during the week ending Dec. 26, 2020, to 31 in the most recent report.

Marengo County likewise saw a slight increase, jumping to 35 during the week ending Jan. 2, 2021, compared to 20 in the previous report, while Perry County notched up from 14 for the week ending Dec. 26, 2020, to 39 in Thursday’s report.

Wilcox County likewise saw a rise in first-time claims last week, jumping from 18 during the week of Dec. 26, 2020, to 24 in the most recent report.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, Jefferson County continues to see the state’s highest level of week-to-week claims, which nearly doubled in the most recent report, which saw 1,310 claims filed during the week of Jan. 2, 2021, compared to 686 in the previous report.

Similarly, the unclassified sector of the workforce continues to contribute the highest number of claims, with nearly 4,300 jobs lost last week.

Beyond that, the administrative and support and waste sector shed more than 1,400 jobs last week and the manufacturing sector dropped over 1,300, while the retail trade sector and the accommodation and food services sector each lost more than 700 jobs and the healthcare and social assistance sector dropped just under 600.