Virus crisis drives 1,103% spike in Georgia jobless claims

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) -- As the COVID-19 public health crisis continues to hobble the economy, Georgia saw a 1,102% increase in first-time unemployment claims last week.

The phenomenal spike was announced Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor, which said it processed 133,820 claims from March 22-28, the highest number of claims it has ever processed in a week.

The previous week, it processed 12,140 claims, more claims than were filed during the peak of the 2008-2009 recession. Unemployment claims throughout the United States increased 101% last week to 6.6 million.

“We are seeing the number of claims filed in Georgia skyrocket to levels we have never experienced before,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “Our team is working overtime, nights, and weekends to process the tremendous volume – taking time away from their own families to help Georgia’s families.”

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With a record number of claims being filed, the agency disbursed $14.6 million in unemployment benefits to 64,022 Georgians for last week.

“People are anxious and worried about their health, their families, and how they are going to continue to make it financially during these uncertain times,” Butler said. “We are here to help Georgians get through this economic struggle.”

The forced closure of non-essential businesses has led to layoffs and furloughs as a vast swath of the nation’s economy has shut down to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the cancellation of school classes has children at home and often in need of parental care.

Many people may be unaware that they could be eligible for assistance. Butler encouraged Georgians to visit www.dol.georgia.gov to access applications, step-by-step instructions and video tutorials on applying for unemployment. The commissioner emphasized that with the huge volume of claims the agency is receiving, people need to use the online tools when possible.

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