ATLANTA — First-time unemployment claims rose in Georgia last week for the first time since early October.

Newly jobless Georgians filed 29,088 claims last week, up 9,462 over the previous week, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The agency paid out $153 million in state and federal unemployment benefits last week, bringing to more than $16 billion the benefits distributed since March, when the coronavirus pandemic first prompted Georgia businesses to close and lay off workers.

Since the week ending March 21, the labor department has processed nearly 4.1 million initial unemployment claims, more than the last nine years combined.

The job sector that accounted for the most first-time claims last week was accommodation and food services with 10,124 claims. The administrative and support services sector was next with 2,496 claims, followed by health care and social assistance with 2,256.

Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Rome had seen its unemployment rate drop 1.2 percentage points in October compared to September. However, the 3.7% rate was still higher than the 3.3% recorded in October 2019.

The number of unemployment claims went up by 3% last month, an increase of about 740% from the same period last year.

The Northwest Georgia region as a whole registered a decrease of 1.1 percentage points in October, to 3.5%. That was up from 3.2% a year ago.

Overall, claims had decreased by 2% from September but were up by about 384% from October 2019, Butler said.

More than 168,000 jobs are currently listed on EmployGeorgia. The labor department offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs.

Rome News-Tribune staff contributed local information.

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