ATLANTA — First-time unemployment claims in Georgia rose last week even as initial claims nationwide fell dramatically.

However, longer-term figures on unemployment reported Thursday by the state Department of Labor weren’t nearly so dismal.

Jobless Georgians filed 38,382 first-time unemployment claims last week, up 4,759 from the week before.

That contrasted sharply with a nationwide drop in claims of 193,000 during the week. Initial unemployment claims for the U.S. stood at 576,000 as of April 10, the lowest since mid-March of last year when the nation’s economy first began feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Georgia’s numbers for the month of March gave more reason for optimism. The state’s unemployment rate declined by 0.3% last month to 4.5%.

“March is yet another month where we have seen job growth throughout the state,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “Georgia has gained a vast majority of the jobs that were lost since March of last year, and we continue to remain strong in economic growth and business development.”

Jobs in Georgia increased by 21,800 last month, reaching a total of nearly 4.5 million. But that’s down 151,000 compared to March of last year.

The job sectors experiencing the most month-over-month job gains were administration and support services with an increase of 3,500 jobs. Next was health care, which added 2,400 jobs in March, followed by local government with 1,800.

Notably absent from the list was the accommodation and food services job sector, which week after week and month after month has led the way in job losses in Georgia leading to the filing of unemployment claims.

Last week, 11,906 Georgians previously working in that sector of the economy filed initial unemployment claims, far ahead of the administrative and support services sector, which accounted for 4,043 claims. Manufacturing was next with 3,160 claims.

The labor department has paid out nearly $20.6 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic. The agency has processed more than 4.6 million initial unemployment claims during that time, more than during the last nine years combined before COVID-19 struck.

More than 223,000 job openings are currently listed on the EmployGeorgia website, triple the number that were listed in March 2020.

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