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Initial unemployment claims declining in Georgia
Georgia Department of Labor
The Georgia Department of Labor offers state residents the opportunity to apply for unemployment benefits when in need. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

By Dave Williams

Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – First-time unemployment claims in Georgia declined by 9,274 last week to 44,892, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The agency also announced Georgians have received more than $15 billion in unemployment benefits since coronavirus took hold in Georgia last March, more than during the last 27 years combined.

“Over 1.4 million Georgians have received benefits during the past seven months,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “Many are beginning to return to the workplace or are looking for new career opportunities.”

Those who haven’t gone back to work are facing a looming loss of unemployment benefits. Due to federal guidelines, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is limited to 39 weeks.

Claimants who began receiving benefits at the beginning of the program last February will begin to exhaust benefits in the next few weeks.

Since mid-March, the job sector accounting for the most initial unemployment claims in Georgia is accommodations and food services with 941,356 claims. The health care and social assistance job sector is next with 452,617 claims, followed by retail trade with 416,131.

The labor department offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs. Employment opportunities include human resource specialists, restaurant managers, bookkeepers, 911 operators and licensed practical nurses.

The agency’s Business Services Unit is now centralizing its efforts to market virtual job fairs, customized recruitment, and other reemployment services, Butler said.