More Wiregrass residents filed initial unemployment claims the week before Christmas than in the weeks prior, according to the latest figures from the Alabama Department of Labor.
Official numbers for initial claims filed during the week of Dec. 13-19 were released Wednesday, Dec. 23. These are new claims first filed following a job loss and do not reflect all current active unemployment claims paid by the department.
There were 7,543 initial claims filed statewide either online or by telephone the week ending Dec. 19, according to a news release. Of those claims, there were 3,265 related to COVID-19.
Industry sectors with the greatest number of claims are: Industry Not Available, 2,975; Manufacturing, 764; Administrative and Support and Waste, 689; Accommodation and Food Services, 620; Retail Trade, 544; and Health Care and Social Assistance, 488.
Jefferson County once again had the largest number of claims in the state with 918.
For the week ending March 14 – which was before state health orders forced businesses to close to slow the spread of COVID-19 – there were less than 2,000 initial claims filed in Alabama. Initial claims reached as high as 106,739 in early April.
Statewide, the most recent numbers showed a slight drop from the 7,569 claims filed the week of Dec. 6-12. For the Wiregrass, however, the numbers reflected an increase after weeks of fewer claims.
For the week ending Dec. 19, there were 452 initial unemployment claims filed in Wiregrass counties. That’s up from 375 claims filed the week ending Dec. 12.
The following is a breakdown of claims filed in Wiregrass counties for the week ending Dec. 19 with the increase or decrease from the previous week in parentheses: Barbour County, 27 (-1); Coffee County, 70 (+12); Covington County, 47 (+16); Dale County, 58 (-4); Geneva County, 36 (+8); Henry County, 20 (+7); Houston County, 149 (+32); and Pike County, 45 (+7).
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in Alabama, Wiregrass residents filed 117 initial claims for unemployment.