The Georgia Department of Labor has paid almost $14.8 billion in state and federal benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March of this year. These payments include over $1 billion in Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments, the latest federal stimulus program, to 654,730 Georgians. Last week, the GDOL issued $202 million in benefits, which included regular unemployment and federally funded LWA supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits (SEB).
LWA is a program funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund that allows distribution of an additional $300 weekly supplement to eligible individuals receiving UI benefits from state and federal unemployment insurance programs for weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5. GDOL issued nearly $23 million in LWA payments last week. The GDOL will continue to issue LWA payments as additional claimants become eligible.
From week ending 3/21/2020 through 10/3/2020, 3,826,770 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the last eight years combined (3.3 million). Of those, 2,540,244 were employer filed claims (66%), and 1,286,526 were individual claims.
The number of initial unemployment claims filed in Georgia for the week ending Oct. 3 was 44,874, up 1,348 over the week. The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States for the week ending Oct. 3 was 840,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 849,000.
From week ending 3/21/2020 through 10/3/2020, the sectors with the most regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services, 918,930, Health Care and Social Assistance, 443,855, Retail Trade, 407,386, Administrative and Support Services, 328,377, and Manufacturing, 298,169.
This week, the GDOL reminds claimants to accurately report earnings each week if working part time and continuing to file for unemployment benefits. If claimants are earning more than $300 (the allowed deductible amount) plus his/her weekly benefit amount, the claimant is not eligible for benefits that week. Unreported wages could cause an overpayment of benefits that would require a claimant to pay back the funds. At the end of a quarter, the GDOL compares employer reported earnings to earnings reported by employees to see if an overpayment has taken place. Claimants who fail to report correct earnings amounts will be required to pay back the funds.
“We want to make sure claimants are receiving accurate payments each week,” said Commissioner Butler. “Factual reporting is critical to avoid overpayment situations when claiming weekly unemployment benefits. Our goal is to bridge the unemployment gap and the only way we can successfully do that is to make sure we are basing calculations on valid data.”
Today, over 176,000 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. GDOL Employment Services staff have made direct contact with employers asking them to clearly indicate on their job order if a position can be worked remotely, even if partially remote, to help meet their workforce needs.