ATLANTA – First-time unemployment claims fell again in Georgia last week, mirroring a decline in jobless claims nationwide as more and more businesses shut down by the coronavirus pandemic reopen.
Georgians filed 25,447 initial unemployment claims last week, a decrease of 1,085 from the previous week, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.
As the number of claims in the Peach State continued trending down, Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said his agency is processing claims at rates above the national average. Georgia reports releasing first payments to 75.5% of claimants with initial claims within 21 days, outpacing the national average of 66.4%.
“No state has processed and paid as many claims as we have at a faster pace,” Butler said. “We have received some tough scrutiny lately for the small percentage of claims not paid that may not even be eligible for payment.”
Still, the General Assembly is looking to give the labor department more help processing claims. The fiscal 2021 mid-year budget Gov. Brian Kemp signed last week includes $49,729 to hire a chief labor officer to oversee unemployment insurance requests, including financial audits.
Legislation authorizing the position is now before the Georgia Senate Industry and Labor Committee.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Georgia, more than $18.7 billion in state and federal benefits have been paid out to more than 4.4 million jobless Georgians, more than during the entire nine years before the virus struck.
The job sector accounting for the most unemployment claims last week was accommodation and food services with 5,520 claims. The administrative and support services sector was next with 3,045 claims, followed by manufacturing with 2,226.
More than 186,000 jobs are listed online at https://bit.ly/36EA2vk for Georgians to access. The labor department offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs.