The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that 88,756 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits in June, an increase of 94.8 percent from June of 2008.

The metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of increase in claims from June 2008 to June 2009 are Rome, up 181.0 percent; Gainesville, up 172.8 percent; and Athens, up 163.2 percent. The areas with the smallest increase in claims are Dalton, up 48.5 percent; Albany, up 66.3 percent; and Savannah, up 68.7 percent.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said, “Rising unemployment continues to plague local economies throughout North Georgia. Fortunately, lay-offs in the hard-hit Dalton area appear to be moderating, although the recession-resistant Athens labor market experienced an unusually sharp increase in first-time jobless claims.”

Most of the state initial claims were filed by laid-off workers in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction, and administrative and support services. The number of jobless workers receiving regular state unemployment insurance benefits rose 97.1 percent over the year, from 81,321 in June of 2008 to 160,249 in June of 2009. And approximately another 93,000 are receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits.

In June, the GDOL processed 25,048 first-time claims for EUC benefits, bringing the total to 226,574 since the federal program began in Georgia in July of 2008. Federal extended benefits are available to eligible jobless workers who have exhausted regular state unemployment compensation.

Commissioner Thurmond urged jobseekers 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 are available at