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Georgia Department of Labor shifting focus to job openings
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

With first-time unemployment claims continuing to fall and more and more businesses reopening, the Georgia Department of Labor is shifting its focus to helping companies fill job openings.

Jobless Georgians filed 25,429 initial unemployment claims last week, down 3,335 from the previous week, the labor department reported Thursday.

As those claims decline, more business owners are coming to the labor department for help finding applicants for open positions, Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said.

“Our mission is to not only bridge the pay gap for those who are temporarily unemployed, but to also provide reemployment support for those who are looking to reenter the workforce filling the critical vacancies we are seeing in every industry,” Butler said.

“I hear every day from employers who have been forced to reduce business hours, refuse large deliveries and turn down economic opportunities due to the simple fact that they did not have the staff to support them.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic first hit Georgia in mid-March of last year, the labor department has paid out more than $21.2 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits. The agency has processed more than 4.7 million first-time jobless claims during that period, more than during the nine years prior to the pandemic.

Last week, the job sector accounting for the most claims was accommodation and food services with 6,224 claims. The administrative and support services sector was next with 2,083, followed by manufacturing with 1,755.

The labor department has more than 240,000 job listings posted on its EmployGeorgia website, the highest the agency has ever recorded.

Claimants using the site can receive support to upload up to five searchable resumes, job search assistance, career counseling, skills testing, job fair information and job training services.