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Georgia unemployment rate increases despite drop in initial claims
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 were down significantly last month, even as the state’s jobless rate rose.

Initial unemployment claims fell by 92,491 in November from the previous month to 104,175, a 47% drop, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday. At the same time, the state’s unemployment rate increased by 1.2% to 5.7%.

The rise in the jobless rate was due to a dramatic increase in Georgia’s workforce, which hit a record high of 5.17 million last month, state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said.

“The fact that our labor force is at an all-time high in the midst of a crippling pandemic is pretty remarkable,” Butler said. “While many focus on the unemployment rate increasing, what is more important is the increases in jobs and employment.”

The number of employed Georgians increased by 12,759 in November to 4.87 million, while the number of jobs grew by 20,900 last month to nearly 4.52 million.

The labor department has paid out nearly $16.5 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits to nearly 4.16 million Georgians since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the state back in mid-March, more than the last nine years combined.

During the week ending Dec. 12, the job sector accounting for the most initial unemployment claims was accommodation and food services with 6,267 claims. The administrative and support services sector was next with 2,672 claims, followed by health care and social assistance with 2,337.

Of more than 162,000 jobs currently listed on the website EmployGeorgia, more than half advertise annual salaries above $40,000.

Resources for reemployment assistance along with information on filing an unemployment claim can be found on the labor department’s webpage at