The President of the United States signed an executive order on August 8 to extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits. The cost of the enhanced benefits will be shared between state and federal government with 75% federal funding and 25% state funding. President Trump directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in providing weekly supplemental benefits from the Disaster Relief Fund to bring continued financial relief to Americans who are suffering from unemployment due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The U.S. Department of Labor’s guidance allows for existing Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund payments delivered by the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) to potentially serve as the state’s 25% matching funds for the program. The GDOL and Governor Kemp’s office are reviewing the executive order and creating a plan that works best for Georgians. Timelines will be announced as soon as they are available.
“The President’s executive order gives states various options for implementing the White House plan. The GDOL is working with the Governor’s office to provide financial resources to continue to bridge the gap for Georgia’s unemployed workforce,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “GDOL will deliver a system to process these weekly supplements as quickly as possible.”
At this time, there is no need for claimants to contact GDOL concerning the proposed enhanced unemployment benefits. We will announce more information on our website and social platforms as it becomes available.
The GDOL also announced that initial claim levels dropped to lows not seen in 21 weeks for the week ending August 8. Claims totaled 62,335, down 11,596 from the first week in August and less than 50% of what the agency was seeing a month ago. The agency issued $309 million in regular unemployment benefits and federal funds including Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) payments, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) supplements, and State Extended Benefits. Since March 21, $12.3 billion has been paid to eligible Georgians in unemployment benefits.
From week ending 3/21/2020 through 8/8/2020, 3,430,394 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the last eight years combined (3.3 million). Of these claims processed, 1,501,501 were identified as valid claims. The invalid claims could potentially be duplicate filed claims or those without enough earned or any wages to receive benefits.
The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States for the week ending August 8 was 963,000, a decrease of 228,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 1,191,000.
Last week, the GDOL issued more than $51 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments to eligible individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. The PUA program may provide benefits to claimants that did not have enough wages to establish a valid regular state UI claim but were prohibited from employment due to COVID-19. From week ending 3/21/2020 through 8/8/2020, 324,535 PUA claims have been validated. Of the valid PUA claims eligible for payment where a request for payment has been made, 84 percent have been issued.
In addition, the total federal funds issued to Georgians for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) totaled over $122 million last week. Over the past 20 weeks, the GDOL has issued more than $8.4 billion in FPUC funds. FPUC provided an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for both state and federal unemployment compensation programs.
From week ending 3/21/2020 through 8/8/2020, the sectors with the most regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services, 818,180, Health Care and Social Assistance, 407,516, Retail Trade, 373,200, Administrative and Support Services, 288,294, and Manufacturing, 266,087.
As of 8/11/2020, the trust fund balance was $385,365,324, down $2.162 billion, or 85 percent, from the 3/24/2020 balance of $2,547,476,454.
Today, over 125,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The GDOL offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs.
At this time, GDOL career centers are remaining closed to the public. All online services are still available as the staff continues to answer calls, process claims, respond to customer inquiries, and provide assistance to applicants. The GDOL will reopen offices to the public as soon as social distancing can be effectively implemented to protect both staff and customers.