Initial unemployment insurance claims decline over the year; But length of joblessness continues to increase

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that 70,597 laid-off workers filed initial claims for state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in October, a decrease of 2.8 percent from October of 2008. The number of UI claimants increased by 3,983, or 6.0 percent, from September when 66,614 claims were filed.

And, the average length of time jobless Georgia workers drew UI benefits increased from 11.6 weeks in October of 2008 to 14.4 weeks in October of 2009.

“The October jobless claims report provides a revealing snapshot of the condition of Georgia’s job market and viability of the nascent economic recovery,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “Most striking is the lack of improvement in initial claims, which showed a decline of only 2.8 percent over the year. This is a stark reminder that job losses are continuing at rates comparable to those experienced at the height of the Great Recession.”

Thurmond encourages employers and job seekers to take advantage of the opportunities available through expanded use of the Georgia Work$ (GW$) initiative. This proven GDOL strategy significantly reduces employer costs associated with recruiting, training, and hiring new employees. For more information about the GW$ hiring strategy, visit www.dol.state.ga.us or email inquiries to gaworks@dol.state.ga.us. GW$ telephone operators are available at 1-877-WORKS09 (1-877-967-5709).

The number of jobless workers receiving state UI benefits rose 32.8 percent over the year, from 98,530 in October of 2008 to 130,812 in October of 2009. An additional 146,000 UI claimants are receiving federally-funded extended benefits, which brings the total number of UI beneficiaries to 276,812.

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

Georgia labor market data are available at www.dol.state.ga.us.