As the COVID-19 public health crisis continues to negatively affect Georgia’s businesses, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) processed 133,820 claims during the week of March 22-28, the highest number of claims it has ever processed in a week.
This represents an increase of 1102% over the prior week ending March 21 with 12,140 claims, more claims than were filed during the peak of the 2008-09 recession. Unemployment claims throughout the United States increased 101% last week to 6.6 million.
“We are seeing the number of claims filed in Georgia skyrocket to levels we have never experienced before,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “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.”
With a record number of claims being filed, the GDOL dispersed $14,563,575 in unemployment benefits to 64,022 Georgians for the week ending 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,” said Butler. “We are here to help Georgians get through this economic struggle.”
Many people may be unaware that they could be eligible for assistance. Butler encouraged Georgians to visit the GDOL website at www.dol.georgia.gov to access applications, step-by-step instructions, and video tutorials on applying for unemployment. The commissioner emphasized that with the huge volume of claims the agency is receiving, people need to use the on-line tools where possible.
The president of the United Stated signed the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act on March 27, expanding unemployment insurance benefits and other economic relief measures aimed at reducing the economic impact of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and authorized $2.1 trillion in aid to various sectors of the economy.
This economic relief package includes the following:
♦ Expands eligibility for those not eligible for regular, extended benefits, or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation including self-employed individuals, independent contractors, those with limited work histories, and those unable to work due to the enumerated COVID-19 related reasons;
♦ Extends state unemployment benefits by 13 weeks of federally funded benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits; and
♦ Provides for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUD) of $600 weekly in addition to regular state benefits.
The GDOL signed all of the necessary agreements Saturday, March 28, to access funding for this program. The agency is still waiting to receive guidelines from the US Department of Labor on how to administer funds on behalf of the federal government. The agency continues to update its website daily with new information on applying and receiving unemployment benefits.
The GDOL is also continuing to work with employers to get Georgians back to work. Employers have been contacting the GDOL with job opportunities that are critical during this crisis – some in the workplace and others that can be done from home. Today, over 116,000 jobs are listed online at www.EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The GDOL offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs.
Information on filing an unemployment claim, details on how employers must file partial claims, and resources for other reemployment assistance can be found on the agency’s webpage at www.gdol.ga.gov