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New reports show Georgia is dead last in unemployment claim recovery

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 4:42 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Every week we hear the same data on how unemployment claims are going down, but the state is still paying more people than ever before. And studies show while Georgia is recovering, it’s not happening as fast as other states.

New data out today shows the Georgia Department of Labor has paid $8.5 billion since March.

We’re moving in the right direction as the DOL says the number of initial claims from April to May decreased by 38 percent.

But a new report by WalletHub shows Georgia comes in last in terms of unemployment claim recovery.

When taking the number of claims from the start of the pandemic to now, and comparing it with that same time period last year, the Peach State sits at a nearly 4,000 percent increase.

When comparing last week’s unemployment claims to the same week in 2019, Georgia also comes in last.

But officials from the DOL say the study doesn't paint the whole picture.

“One of the statistics that is really amazing to us for a state our size is that we are processing the fourth largest amount of claims in the nation,” Kersha Cartwright of the Georgia DOL said.

More specifically, 2.9 million claims have been filed since the start of the pandemic. Cartwright says it also doesn’t account for the number of claims that are invalid.

“When you go back and you look at that, you’re looking at a much lesser number,” she said.

The DOL says they’ve paid out 91 percent of unemployment claims. Interestingly, Jim Stiff, the president of the region’s Goodwill attributes the high payout -- plus the $600 CARES Act benefit as one of the reasons the number jobseekers at Goodwill has decreased during the pandemic.

“That CARES Act federal benefit allowed individuals to have in some ways, more money than they had with their employer before they got laid off,” Stiff said.

But with the federal government stopping their unemployment boosts next week, Stiff anticipates Goodwill's Job Connection is about to see unprecedented numbers.

“We believe, since the Great Depression, the coming months are going to be the greatest wave of unemployment that we’ve experienced in modern history,” he said.

Some good news despite the report though, Georgia’s unemployment rate in April was 12.6 percent. That dropped to 9.7 percent in May, making it one of the lowest in the southeast.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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