Ivey announces end of participation in all Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Programs: Covington County sees decrease in unemployment in March
Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Alabama will end its participation in all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs effective June 19, 2021 including:
- 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.
Any weeks filed prior to and up to June 19 and are eligible under any of the federal program requirements will continue to be processed under these programs.
“As Alabama’s economy continues its recovery, we are hearing from more and more business owners and employers that it is increasingly difficult to find workers to fill available jobs, even though job openings are abundant,” said Governor Ivey. “Among other factors, increased unemployment assistance, which was meant to be a short-term relief program during emergency related shutdowns, is now contributing to a labor shortage that is compromising the continuation of our economic recovery.”
“Alabama has an unemployment rate of 3.8%, the lowest in the Southeast, and significantly lower than the national unemployment rate. Our Department of Labor is reporting that there are more available jobs now than prior to the pandemic. Jobs are out there,” continued Governor Ivey. “We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults. Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work.”
Covington County’s unemployment was actually down in March of this year, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.
The March unemployment rate of 2.8 percent was a decrease from the prior month’s rate of 3.1 percent. It is also down from the March 2020 rate of 3.1 percent.
The rate reflects a civilian workforce of 14,928 within the county, which was down from both February 2021 (15,146) and March 2020 (15,081).
Covington County’s unemployment rate was below that of the state rate, which is 3.8 percent, down from February’s 4 percent, but up from March 2020’s rate of 2.6 percent. Overall, the state is well below the national unemployment rate average of 6 percent.
Unemployment rates for surrounding counties are: Butler, 5.7 percent; Coffee, 2.4 percent; Conecuh, 4.7 percent; Crenshaw, 3 percent; Escambia, 3.9 percent; and Geneva, 2.5 percent.
Alabama counties recording the lowest unemployment are Shelby and Cullman counties at 2 percent; Limestone, Franklin and Blount counties at 2.1; and Marshall and Cleburn counties at 2.2 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 11.6 percent; Lowndes at 10.6; and Perry County at 8.1 percent.
According to the ALDOL, monthly employment gains were in government, financial, manufacturing, trade, transportation, utilities, health services, education, construction and information. Monthly loses were in leisure and hospitality as well as professional and business services.
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.
“We have more posted job ads now than we did in either February or March 2020,” said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “Ads for workers in the leisure and hospitality industry are up by 73%. Overall, ads are up by nearly 40%. There are plenty of opportunities available in multiple industries in Alabama.”
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.
Robert Blankenship and Christopher Smith contributed to this article.
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