ATLANTA — Initial unemployment claims in Georgia fell below 100,000 last week for the sixth week in a row, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

During the week ending Sept. 5, unemployed Georgians filed 50,320 first-time claims, down 963 from the previous week. That brought the total number of initial unemployment claims filed since March 21 to almost 3.65 million, more than during the last eight years combined.

Meanwhile, the labor department announced claimants who qualify for the Lost Wages Assistance federal program President Donald Trump unveiled last month will be issued their first checks early next week.

Trump turned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the $300 weekly unemployment supplements after Congress failed to extend an earlier program that had been providing Americans thrown out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic $600 per week.

FEMA announced Wednesday that all states will be limited to six weeks of benefits. The Georgia Department of Labor plans to issue checks for the first three weeks early next week and benefits for the final three weeks by late next week.

“We understood the president’s executive order was contingent upon the availability of funds,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “Although the six weeks of benefits wasn’t what many had hoped for, the additional support will make a big difference to some struggling to avoid eviction.”

Eligibility for the new program is based upon an individual’s weekly benefit determination – an amount calculated by a claimant’s reported wages. Individuals must have received a weekly benefit of at least $100 to be eligible.

Also, the recipient must be unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Since March 21, the accommodation and food services job sector has accounted for the most initial unemployment claims in Georgia with 872,074. The health care and social assistance job sector is next with 426,927 initial claims, followed by retail trade with 391,387.

Nearly 150,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access, a 50% increase over pre-pandemic levels. The labor department offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume and assisting with other reemployment needs.

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