By Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service
Initial unemployment claims in Georgia experienced an uptick last week, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday.
For the week ending Oct. 3, 44,874 Georgians filed first-time unemployment claims, an increase of 1,348 over the previous week.
Since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic began forcing businesses to close and lay off workers, the labor department has processed more than 3.8 million initial jobless claims, more than during the last eight years combined.
Overall, the state has paid out almost $14.8 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits since COVID-19 set in.
Within that total is more than $1 billion in payments through the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, which President Donald Trump launched in August after an earlier program expired at the end of July. While the previous program was providing jobless workers weekly supplements of $600, the LWA initiative pays out $300 per week in unemployment benefits.
With so much financial assistance going out, the state agency reminded claimants this week to accurately report earnings each week, especially those who are working part-time and continuing to file for unemployment benefits. Unreported wages could cause an overpayment of benefits that would require a claimant to pay back the money.
“We want to make sure claimants are receiving accurate payments each week,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “Factual reporting is critical to avoid overpayment situations when claiming weekly unemployment benefits.”
Since March 21, the accommodation and food services job sector has accounted for the most first-time unemployment claims in Georgia with 918,930 claims. The health care and social assistance sector is next with 443,855 claims, followed by retail trade with 407,386.
More than 176,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The labor department offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume and assisting with other reemployment needs.