Number of Georgia's initial unemployment claims rises

The number of laid-off workers in Georgia who filed first-time unemployment claims in June hit 45,553, the Georgia Department of Labor announced today. That's a 35.9 percent increase over the same time last year and a 1.9 increase from May to June.

In Columbus, the number of initial claims from May to June rose 2.9 percent from 758 to 780.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits are considered to be a good measure of economic activity.

"The June report is further confirmation of the trend toward higher unemployment," Michael Thurmond, state labor commissioner, said in a statement. "Since the beginning of the year, initial claims have been running in excess of 30 percent over the same period last year. The economic downturn that began with the credit crunch has accelerated with significant costs of food and fuel, causing many employers to reduce hiring or eliminate jobs."

The department said most of the state's increase came in trade and services.

"I encourage job seekers to take note that some employers are still hiring and that the Georgia Department of Labor can help connect them," Thurmond said.

The local Georgia Department of Labor career center is located at 700 Veterans Parkway. For more information, call 706-649-7423.