ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that 86,519 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits in February, an increase of 111.2 percent from February of 2008.

The metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of increase in claims are Brunswick, up 179.5 percent; Athens, up 167.1 percent; and Dalton, up 148.7 percent. The areas with the smallest increase in claims are Hinesville, up 51.8 percent; Gainesville, up 71.6 percent; and Valdosta, up 75.2 percent.

Most of the state initial claims were filed by laid-off workers in manufacturing, trade, construction, and administrative services, including temporary employment agencies. And, the number of jobless workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits rose 116 percent over the year, from 73,661 in February of 2008 to 159,359 in February of 2009.

Also, in February, the GDOL processed 15,509 first-time claims for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits, bringing the total to 141,257 since the federal program began in Georgia in July 2008. Federal extended benefits are available to jobless workers who have exhausted regular state unemployment compensation.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond urged jobseekers to continue to look for work, explore training and education opportunities and to make full use of the reemployment services at the department’s 53 career centers around the state. The locations of the career centers may be accessed via the internet at

Georgia labor market data are available at