First time claims for unemployment benefits in Floyd County dropped sharply from October to November.

A new report from the Georgia Department of Labor shows that 990 Floyd County residents made an initial claims for unemployment assistance in November, about half of the 1,956 claims filed in October.

The drop here mirrored a trend across the 15-county Northwest Georgia Regional Commission area, which saw claims go down from more than 14,400 in October to a little more than 8,500 in November.

The 15-county region is Dade, Catoosa, Whitfield, Walker, Murray, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Gordon, Chattooga, Floyd, Bartow, Paulding, Polk and Haralson counties.

While local claims went down significantly from October to November, they were still up significantly from November of a year ago — when just 330 Floyd County residents sought jobless benefit assistance.

The Department of Labor also reported that Floyd County-based businesses provided approximately 42,600 jobs in November, up by 200 from October, but still less than the 42,700 jobs on local payrolls in November 2019.

The statewide unemployment rate jumped back up to 5.7% in November, which has prompted Rome Floyd Chamber President Jeanne Krueger and her staff to keep a close eye on the relationship between jobs and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The October local unemployment rate was 3.7%, the lowest since the pandemic set in this spring.

The jobless rate peaked at 13.5% in April and has been dropping since. The number of COVID-19 cases continues to soar with far more people being hospitalized and the death rate expanding much more quickly than it did back in the spring.

However, Gov. Brian Kemp has said that he would not consider a shut down like the one instituted earlier this year.

Krueger said she is optimistic that the timing of the rollout of two vaccines, along with the likelihood of a new federal stimulus package, will help people who have been impacted the most by the pandemic.

“We’ve also seen an uptick in the number of jobs posted on our webpage,” Krueger said. She pointed to the opening of shops in the new East Bend shopping center off Turner McCall Boulevard as having a positive impact on the jobs market.

County-by county unemployment rates will be released on Christmas Eve.

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