ATLANTA — First-time unemployment claims in Georgia declined last week for the sixth week in a row, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.
For the week ending Aug. 29, initial claims totaled 51,283, down 5,485 from the previous week.
During the 24 weeks since the coronavirus pandemic forced Georgia businesses to shut down, the labor department has paid out more than $3 billion in regular state unemployment benefits, more than the last seven years combined.
“I don’t believe anyone would have imaged that we would disperse more than $3 billion,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “It is a testament to my staff here at the (labor department), who have processed more than 3.5 million claims.”
Meanwhile, the labor agency is in the testing phase prior to rolling out federal unemployment checks of $300 per week under an initiative President Donald Trump announced last month. The president acted after an earlier federal program that had been providing unemployed Americans $600 a week expired and Congress failed to renew it.
The $300 checks authorized under the new Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program should begin going out by the middle of this month.
The program is limited to an initial five weeks, and Georgia has qualified for all five. After that, states will be required to request the money every week through Dec. 27 or the termination of the program, whichever comes first.
From March 21 through the end of last week, the accommodation and food services job sector accounted for the most initial unemployment claims in Georgia with 858,572 claims. The health care and social assistance sector was next with 422,810 claims, followed by retail trade with 387,184.
More than 148,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The labor department offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume and assisting with other reemployment needs.