In February, 40,963 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits, the Georgia Department of Labor announced. That's an increase of 37.7 percent from February of last year, when 29,738 were filed.
The February over-the-year rise is the eighth such consecutive increase since July 2007.
"I continue to be concerned about weakness in the job market and the fact that it's taking longer for jobless workers to get new jobs," State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. "The Georgia Department of Labor is redoubling its efforts to put people back to work as quickly as possible."
The overall number of people without jobs receiving unemployment benefits increased as well. In February, that number was 73,661 — up 32.6 percent from 55,564 in February 2007.
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It's also taking people longer to find work again. In the same period, the average length of time a person received benefits climbed from 11 to 11.2 weeks.
Statewide, initial claims dropped about 38.4 percent from January to February. The department said that was because in January, initial claims spiked upward as seasonal workers in construction, retail trade and services filed claims.
In Columbus, the number of initial claims decreased from January to February. It was down 1,320 — or 65.9 percent — from 2,004 to 684.