A new phone appointment system debuts Jan. 4 for residents in need of unemployment assistance. The Alabama Department of Labor announced Wednesday it will no longer offer in-person appointments due to concerns around COVID-19.
Beginning Jan. 3, those wishing to file claims can call 1-800-361-4524 after 5 p.m. until midnight Sundays through Thursdays to schedule a call back for the next day. The state employment agency will schedule 600 callbacks per day, with the exception of holidays and weekends.
The department encourages people who are unable to schedule an appointment one day to call back the next day after 5 p.m.
“This new callback system will allow us to serve more claimants per day than we’ve been able to previously,” Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said. “We’ve been working nonstop to improve our services to unemployed Alabamians and this system will hopefully accomplish that.”
One callback appointment will be allowed per day. Those callbacks will come from a Montgomery phone number and will be scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Claimants should keep their phones near them the entire day of their scheduled callback,” a labor department news release said.
For weeks this past summer, long unemployment lines in Montgomery prompted officials to offer assistance by appointment only. The agency was flooded with requests and had been working through a backlog since the early months of the pandemic.
The final days for in-person service at the Crump Senior Center in Montgomery will be Dec. 28 and 29. The labor department said appointments for those days will be available on the agency’s website beginning Friday, December 25 at 5 p.m.
Alabama had 7,543 initial unemployment claims filed last week, a slight drop from the previous week. The most sought-after employees in November, according to the labor department, were retail salespeople, registered nurses, sales representatives, customer service representatives, and food service workers.
UAB Health System, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Lowe’s took the largest share of job postings last month.