Georgia’s jobless numbers improve, but S.C. stats still rising

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 9:23 AM EDT
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Georgia reported some positive developments today in releasing its latest unemployment numbers, but the statistics were less bright for South Carolina and the nation as a whole.

Here’s a look at the latest numbers released today:

In Georgia

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that the state’s unemployment rate fell in June to 7.6%, 3.5 percentage points lower than the national rate of 11.1 percent.

June 2020 labor statistics also revealed over-the-month increases for the labor force, employment, and jobs.

“June was the first month to show positive numbers in all major indicators since the pandemic started,” Butler said in a statement. “Although it is nice to see the pendulum move in the right direction, we are not naïve to the fact that we may see another tick up in claims over the next few months.”

The unemployment rate decreased by 1.8 percentage points in June, to reach 7.6%. A year ago, the rate was 3.5%.

June showed an increase of 118,100 employed residents over the month, bringing the total to 4,550,242. This number has decreased by 364,462 over the year.

Georgia’s labor force was up by 31,100 to reach a total of 4,923,646. The labor force was down 168,917 when compared to this same time last year.

Jobs in Georgia were up by 150,200 over the month, reaching a total of 4,370,300. They were down 239,800 over the year.

Unemployment claims showed a decrease of 228,209 claims or 27 percent in June to reach a total of 607,851 claims. They were up by 589,441 claims or 3,202 percent from June 2019.

The Georgia Department of Labor says it has processed more than 3 million claims since the middle of March. Of the 3,085,261 claims, 1.4 million proved valid to pay. The invalid claims could potentially be duplicate filed claims or those without enough earned wages to receive benefits. Officials said 1,262,381 applicants have requested a payment and 1,148,617 have received benefits.

In South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce says it has paid out more than $3.15 billion in state unemployment insurance benefits and federal benefits since the pandemic began.

The federal benefits include CARES Act programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers self-employed and others; the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which pays $600 per week; the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which extends benefits for 13 weeks; and extended benefits, which provide an additional 10 weeks after PEUC, SCDEW spokesperson Heather Biance said.

The latest numbers from the agency show that during the week that ended Saturday, 19,329 people filed their initial claim for unemployment insurance, which represents an increase of 3,267 over the previous week.

That brings the total who have filed their first claim over the past 17 weeks to 671,079 people, Biance said.

Charleston County had the fourth-highest number of new claims last week, with 1,051 filings. It was behind Greenville County, which lead with 1,755; followed by Richland County, which reported 1,349 claims and Spartanburg County, which reported 1,277.

Across the U.S.

At the national level, the number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits remained stuck at 1.3 million last week, an historically high level that indicates many companies are still cutting jobs as the viral outbreak intensifies.

U.S. retail sales also climbed a solid 7.5% in June, a sign that the economy was healing right before infections from the coronavirus spiked again and dragged down hopes for a steady recovery.

The Census Bureau reported Thursday that retail sales are 1.1% higher than their levels from a year ago, after a brutal plunge in March and April was offset by a decent rebound in May and June. Spending at restaurants and bars jumped 20% last month, but it’s still down 26.3% from last year.

In Florida, claims doubled to 129,000, and in Georgia they rose nearly one-third to 136,000. In California they increased 23,000 to nearly 288,000. Applications also rose in Arizona and South Carolina.

Applications fell in Texas, New Jersey and New York.

The Labor Department's Thursday report showed that applications for jobless aid fell by about 10,000 from the previous week. The figure has now topped 1 million for 17 straight weeks. Before the pandemic, the record high for weekly unemployment applications was nearly 700,000.

Those figures are adjusted for seasonal variations, a practice that is intended to filter out trends that don't reflect on the economy, such as the firing of seasonal workers after the winter holidays. Yet the impact of the coronavirus has made such adjustments less relevant, economists say, because claims are so far above normal levels.

Before seasonal adjustment, applications actually rose 100,000 to 1.5 million, a sign that layoffs are actually worsening.

The total number of people who are receiving jobless benefits dropped 400,000 to 17.3 million, the government said. That suggests that some companies are continuing to rehire workers, which could offset some of the job losses reflected in the still-high level of claims.

An additional 928,000 people sought benefits last week under a separate program for self-employed and gig workers that has made them eligible for aid for the first time. These figures aren't adjusted for seasonal variations, so the government doesn't include them in the official count.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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