Problems Plague Alabama Unemployment Systems

July 14, 2020

Desperate residents in Alabama in recent weeks resorted to camping out overnight outside of buildings where they hoped to meet with unemployment staff who could help them.

Experts say that many of the states that are now having the worst problems implemented policies that made it difficult for people to get benefits even before the virus slammed the economy. Some of these same states are also running their systems on subpar technology.  

Rachelle Greczyn, an attorney at Legal Services Alabama, a nonprofit law firm that provides legal aid to lower-income residents in the state, said her office had seen a significant upswing in the number of people who are calling and looking for help with unemployment claims. 

There are some denial appeals; she said—some that are taking months to go through. “But we also have a lot of people who are kind of in a limbo state and don’t know what’s going on.” 

In the wake of reports that people were spending the night outside a temporary unemployment center in Montgomery to hold spots in line, Alabama did announce that it was setting up an appointment system for people trying to get issues with their benefits resolved in person. 

A spokesperson for Gov. Kay Ivey’s office referred a request for comment to the department. The Alabama Department of Labor did not respond to a request for comment.

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