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Close to half a million people lost their jobs in Alabama since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday, the Alabama Department of Labor admitted about 30% of those people are still waiting for unemployment checks.
Tuscumbia cosmetologist, Jenna Daniel, is one of the people still waiting for an unemployment check. She filed for unemployment at the end of March and still hasn't seen a dime. Daniels rents a booth at a salon so she's considered self employed. The Alabama Department of Labor said it's now processing the gig and self employed workers claims.
"I know it was a last min thing they had to wait and get guidelines from the federal government on the pandemic unemployment. I know they had to get a system in place but I feel like five weeks later we should have gotten something," said Jenna Daniel.
Daniels said she had questions about her unemployment claim but hasn't been able to reach anyone.
"I've tried calling and calling. One of the forms it gave the option to fax. I tried for two days and it never went through," said Daniel. "They said they hired a call center and added 100 people to take calls so why isn't it getting easier to get through to them?"
Daniels said she's tried facebook messaging the department too.
"It's been very frustrating you know your bill collectors want their money. We've all got car payments and rent and different things and not knowing when your going to get your money you can't tell people when your going to pay your bills. It's getting to the point when you get concerned about groceries," said Daniel.
The Alabama Department of Labor said they have a tsunami of claims. It's contracted with a call center and moved about 120 some employees to answering calls but people still can't get through.
"We completely understand the frustration we understand the urgency. We're working day and night to correct as many issues as we can and streamline this process so that we can go ahead and get those benefits paid," said ADOL spokesperson, Tara Hutchinson.
Daniels said she understands no one was prepared for this but feels failed by the system at this point and wants the state to do better because her livelihood and others depends on it.