Alabama will end its participation in all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs effective June 19, 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday.
This includes the following programs:
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides for an additional $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits for those who would not usually qualify, such as the self-employed, gig workers, and part-time workers,
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides for an extension of benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted, and
- Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), which provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with mixed earnings.
Ivey’s announcement says any weeks filed prior to and up to June 19 that are eligible under any of the federal program requirements will continue to be processed under these programs.
This decision comes as many businesses are struggling to find employees. Throughout downtown Huntsville, 'We're hiring' signs are posted outside restaurants and bars.
At MELT, they set up 30 interviews recently and only one or two people showed up.
"It's frustrating because I mean we just have everything set up, we made appointments for them and then nobody showed up for the appointments, the interviews," MELT Manager Jennifer Hurt said.
Understaffing has become the latest hurdle they face. It is a problem the entire state is facing.
"Unemployment insurance or assistance is meant to be a short-term relief program during emergency situations but now it's contributing to a labor shortage that is compromising a true economic recovery," Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said.
Washington said the goal right now is to get the economy back to what it was pre-pandemic. About a year ago, the unemployment rate was at a record low of 2.7 percent in Alabama. A year later, it is at 3.8 percent.
For Hurt, business is picking up, so having a full staff is crucial.
"Our sales have been up, actually they are probably a little higher than before COVID," Hurt said.
Governor Kay Ivey explained her decision during a statement Monday.
"There are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults," Ivey said. "Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work.”
Hurt said she agrees with the timing of Ivey's decision.
"It seems to be a safe time to do so, so yeah I think it's a great idea," Hurt said.
ADOL has reinstated the work search requirement for all claimants, which was temporarily waived during the height of the pandemic. This requires all claimants to actively search for work to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.
Free job services are available to all Alabamians through the Alabama Career Center System, which operates 53 centers throughout the state. Services include résumé preparation, interviewing skills, job search and application assistance, vocational and educational training programs, and apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs. A listing of Career Centers can be found HERE.