More than 40% of jobs are not being filled

First-time unemployment claims in Georgia dropped significantly last week, echoing a national trend that has held for six weeks running.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor is continuing to score higher than comparable states in timely delivery of unemployment benefits despite a barrage of complaints from recipients of long delays.

The Peach State ranks second in the nation among the 10 most populous states for processing claims in fewer than 21 days.

“We are focused on paying eligible claimants accurately and on time,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “We have continued to rank in the top states in the nation every month for benefit timeliness, furthering our commitment to provide support for Georgians bridging the gap between employment.”

The state experienced a slight uptick in first-time unemployment claims last week. Jobless Georgians filed 24,622 initial claims last week, up 69 from the week before.

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck Georgia in March of last year, the Labor department has processed more than 4.8 million unemployment claims, more than during the last 10 years combined before the pandemic. The agency has paid out more than $22 billion in state and federal jobless benefits.

That unprecedented workload has prompted complaints of backlogs in processing claims and distributing benefits, resulting in demonstrations outside the Labor department’s downtown Atlanta office.

On Thursday, the commissioner urged claimants to register with the department’s Employ Georgia website before requirements for weekly work searches kick in late this month.

Video tutorials on how to register and utilize the website are available at employgeorgia.com.

More than 226,000 jobs are listed on Employ Georgia. Through the site, claimants can access not only job listings but job search assistance, career counseling, skills testing, job fair information and job training services.

The site features special accommodations for people with disabilities and veterans transitioning back into the work force.

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