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Jobless claims in Georgia hit all-time high
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

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The number of initial jobless claims has reached an all-time high, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday, April 16.

“We are reaching unprecedented claim levels of almost 1 million Georgians filing for unemployment,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “That is 1 in every 10 people who are turning to the GDOL for unemployment assistance. This is a massive undertaking, but one that I know we are capable of achieving.”

Unemployment claims showed an increase of 290,068 claims, or 1,292%, in March, and were up by 293,774 claims, or 1,567%, from March 2019. The monthly total was higher than the annual total for each of the previous two years, 291,962 in 2019, and 310,494 in 2018, according to the department.

March 2020 labor statistics also showed that the over-the-month increase for the unemployment rate was the largest on record.

The unemployment rate increased by 1.1 percentage points in March, to reach 4.2%. A year ago, the rate was 3.7%.

The following sectors saw the highest increase in initial claims for unemployment over the month: 132,564, accommodation and food services, 132,564; 37,621, health care and social assistance; and 23,074, trade

Previous story: The Georgia Department of Labor processed 133,820 claims during the week of March 22-28, the highest number of claims it has ever processed in a week, the department reported Thursday, April 2.

“This represents an increase of 1,102% over the prior week ending March 21 with 12,140 claims,” according to a labor department news release.

The 12,140 claims were more than what was filed during the peak of the 2008-2009 recession.

“We are seeing the number of claims filed in Georgia skyrocket to levels we have never experienced before,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “Our team is working overtime, nights and weekends to process the tremendous volume — taking time away from their own families to help Georgia’s families.”

Some 64,000 Georgians received $14.6 million in unemployment benefits for the week ending Saturday, March 28.

“People are anxious and worried about their health, their families, and how they are going to continue to make it financially during these uncertain times,” Butler said. “We are here to help Georgians get through this economic struggle.”

Georgians can visit the GDOL website at to access applications, step-by-step instructions, and video tutorials on applying for unemployment.

“With the huge volume of claims the agency is receiving, people need to use the online tools where possible,” the release states.

The federal stimulus package approved by Congress last week expanded unemployment insurance benefits, among other things.