ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has been named a national leader in helping unemployed citizens get back to work and for the efficient management of its unemployment insurance program.

The American Institute for Full Employment (AIFE) recently presented the 2008 “Full Employment Award” to the Georgia Department of Labor. This prestigious award is presented annually to the state employment security agency that “best exemplifies commitment and dedication to re-employment of unemployment insurance claimants through proactive policies and innovative programs.”

“The on-going transformation of Georgia’s employment security system continues to pay large dividends for employers and workers,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “These awards recognize our commitment to helping jobless Georgians find jobs and being good stewards of the public’s money and trust.”

The AIFE noted that a key component of Georgia’s success was Commissioner Michael Thurmond’s “vision” and “dynamic leadership” in developing innovative “programs and policies that focus on reducing the time it takes for UI claimants to return to work.” According to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) data, Georgia’s labor department helped laid-off workers get new jobs in an average of 11.6 weeks, one of the shortest benefit duration periods in the nation and nearly four weeks faster than the national average.

The shorter benefit period has resulted in significant savings to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. This has helped reduce employer taxes by $1.74 billion since 1999. During that same period, the maximum weekly benefit amount has been increased from $244 to $330.

In addition, USDOL recently recognized the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) division as one of the most efficient in the nation. In November, the USDOL presented Georgia with two 2008 National Unemployment Insurance State Performance Awards for achieving “the best performance nationally” in providing accurate tax operations and timely and high-quality UI appeals decisions.