ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that 93,988 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in July, an increase of 58.9 percent from July of 2008. The last time the over-the-year increase in initial claims was less than 58.9 percent was November of 2008, when an increase of 54.7 percent was recorded.

“The July jobless claims report presents a classic good news/bad news scenario,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “Fewer Georgians are being laid off, but a rising number of laid-off workers are remaining unemployed for longer periods of time.”

The number of jobless workers receiving state UI benefits rose 83 percent over the year, from 89,603 in July of 2008 to 163,839 in July of 2009. Approximately 140,000 UI claimants are receiving federally-funded extended benefits, bringing the total number of UI claimants to 303,839. The average length of time that jobless Georgia workers drew UI benefits increased from 11.5 weeks in July of 2008 to 13.4 weeks in July 2009.

Most of the initial claims were filed by laid-off workers in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction, and administrative and support services.

Commissioner Thurmond added that we must increase our efforts to stimulate private sector job creation. Particular focus will be placed on strengthening relationships between the Georgia Department of Labor and Georgia’s small businesses, the prime engine of job creation.