The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced Thursday that it has paid more Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits than ever previously paid.
Payments of almost three times the amount in all of 2019 were issued to claimants during the short holiday week. Over $8.5 million in regular state and federal UI benefit payments were made during the week preceding Independence Day to bring Georgia’s total payments in excess of$8.5 billion since the middle of March. In excess of 91 percent of the 1.2 million claimants requesting a payment have received benefits.
Payments last week totaled $148,071,716 in regular weekly state unemployment benefits. Since March 21, over $2 billion has been paid in regular state UI benefits.
“We are paying more Georgians more benefits than we ever have before,” said Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler. “No one would have imagined in the same year we experienced our lowest monthly number of claims since 1975 that we would pay almost three years’ worth of benefits in one week.”
Weekly regular UI initial claims totaled 105,160, down 12,325 over the week ending July 4. Of the weekly total, 57,404 (55%) were employer filed claims. Initial claims have been trending down for the last ten weeks. Over the last 16 weeks, 2,948,376 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the last seven years combined (2.7 million).
The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States for the week ending July 4 was 1,314,000, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 1,413,000.
Last week, the GDOL issued nearly $96 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments to 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. From week ending 3/21/2020 through 7/4/2020, 255,552 PUA claims have been validated. Of the valid PUA claims eligible for payment where a request for payment has been made, 88 percent have been issued payment.
In addition, the total federal funds issued to Georgians for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) totaled over $606 million last week. Over the past 16 weeks, the GDOL has issued more than $5.8 billion in FPUC funds. FPUC provides an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the unemployment compensation programs – state and federal. The FPUC program is scheduled to end with the week ending July 25, 2020.
From week ending 3/21/2020 through 7/4/2020, the sectors with the most regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services with 732,709 unemployment claims, Health Care and Social Assistance with 348,660, Retail Trade with 330,152, Administrative and Support Services with 248,061, and Manufacturing with 225,596.
“Our staff continues to focus daily on unpaid claims, resolving as many of these issues as possible,” said Commissioner Butler. “As not everyone is eligible for unemployment benefits, it is our responsibility to administer state and federal unemployment programs to the best of our ability making sure we only pay eligible claimants and maintain the integrity of the UI program. Sometimes these claims are challenging and require research and attention greatly increasing the time it takes to find resolution.”
The GDOL implemented State Extended Benefits (SEB) this week after meeting a federal unemployment rate threshold. As of July 5, 2020, Georgia began a high unemployment period in the Extended Benefits program increasing the potential entitlement for claimants an additional 20 weeks. SEB is available for applicants that have exhausted all regular state UI benefits and Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits. The requirements for SEB are the same as regular UI benefits. The individual’s eligibility is determined by the separation from the most recent employer. Employers submitting employer filed claims are automatically the most recent employer. Additionally, the eligibility requirements are limited to being able and available to work until further notice.
As of July 7, the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Balance was $936,363,499, down $1.611 billion, or 63 percent, from the 3/24/2020 balance of $2,547,476,454.
Today, over 116,000 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.