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Weekly claims tumble in county after hitting five-month high

Numbers released by the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) Thursday showed a sharp drop in first-time jobless claims in Dallas County last week after numbers reached their highest levels since late-July in the first two reports of 2021.

The latest report, which provided numbers for the week ending Jan. 16, showed that 116 initial unemployment claims were filed in the county last week compared to 165 the week before, which represented only a one-point decline over the report for the week ending Jan. 2.

While county numbers are moving in the right direction, last week’s 116 claims mark the highest level of first-time claims filed in the county since early-August.

Numbers shot up across the state and nation in the first report of 2021 as extended unemployment benefits began being paid out under federal legislation approved late last year.

While the number of claims filed last week in Alabama is an improvement over the week before, 11,983 compared to 14,084, it’s still an increase over the Jan. 2 report, in which the state reported just under 11,000 first-time claims.

Of the nearly 12,000 claims filed last week in Alabama, 5,982 were related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Likewise, initial unemployment claims filed across the nation declined last week, dropping to 900,000 compared to 925,000 the week before, but were still markedly above numbers seen at the end of 2020.

That trend, a weekly decrease in first-time claims coupled with numbers still above those seen late last year, held among most of Dallas County’s closest neighbors, with Autauga County seeing 138 claims filed last week compared to 218 the week before after logging only 35 in the final report of 2020.

Lowndes County likewise saw a week-to-week decrease, dropping from 55 claims during the week ending Jan. 9 to 28 in the most recent report, while Perry County climbed down from 38 claims in the Jan. 9 report to 21 last week.

Both counties’ numbers were still above the 13 and 14, respectively, seen in the final report of 2020.

Marengo County logged 33 first-time claims last week compared to 56 the week before, still above the 20 reported in the final numbers of 2020, and Wilcox County climbed down from 42 first-time claims during the week ending Jan. 9 to 30 last week, still above the 18 reported in the Dec. 26, 2020, report.

Jefferson County continues to see the highest rate of weekly claims in the state, with nearly 1,690 claims filed last week, and the unclassified sector of the workforce continues to shed the most jobs in the state, making up more than 5,400 of last week’s claims.

Other industries still being significantly impacted by the pandemic are the manufacturing sector and the administrative and support and waste sector, both of which shed more than 1,000 jobs last week, the retail sector, which added 886 to last week’s numbers and the food services sector, which logged over 700 job losses last week.

The healthcare and social assistance sector lost just over 650 jobs last week and the construction sector shed just under 500.