ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that 56,652 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in September, an increase of 76.3 percent from September of 2007.

During the first nine months of this year, 466,756 initial claims for unemployment insurance have been filed, an increase of 38.8 percent over the 336,286 initial claims filed during the same period last year. The metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of increase in claims are Gainesville, Dalton, and Rome. The areas with the smallest increase in claims are Athens, Valdosta, and Augusta.

“For the second consecutive month, initial claims have risen by more than 70 percent over the year,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “Georgia is in the midst of a challenging economic environment. The Georgia Department of Labor has shifted to 10-hour work days, so that we can more effectively serve job seekers and employers. I want to reaffirm our commitment to do everything we can to assist jobless Georgians who’re looking for work.

During the past year, layoffs have come across-the-board. The manufacturing, construction, trade and services sectors have been especially hard hit. And, the total number of individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits was up 53 percent over the year, from 57,629 in September of 2007 to 88,121 in September of 2008.