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Alabama to opt-out of all federal pandemic unemployment relief effective June 19 — ‘Our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work’

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that Alabama will end its participation in all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs effective June 19.

This includes the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides for a supplemental $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation.

The announcement comes after a dismal jobs report and amid Alabama businesses widely reporting the inability to fill a large number of existing job openings.

“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 Ivey in a written statement. “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 will also opt-out of the following:

  • 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 eligible under any of the federal program requirements will continue to be processed by the State of Alabama under these programs.

“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,” Ivey added. “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.”

National Federation of Independent Business state director for Alabama Rosemary Elebash noted, “Our members hope that by ending these federal subsidies, people will be encouraged to return to the workforce, and businesses will have workers to meet the demand created as Governor Ivey has eased COVID-19 restrictions.”

The Alabama Department of Labor has also 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,” advised Alabama 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.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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