Georgia unemployment claims sharply higher in October

The number of Georgians filing for unemployment benefit claims spiked sharply higher in October, the Georgia Department of Labor said today.

There were 72,627 laid-off workers filing first-time claims last month, a 75-percent increase from October 2007, the agency said.

So far this year, nearly 540,000 people statewide have submitted claims for unemployment insurance. That's up nearly 43 percent from the same 10-month period a year ago.

Athens, Brunswick and Dalton have seen the highest spikes this year, the department said, while the smallest increases in claims have been in Augusta, Hinesville and Warner Robins.

“For the third consecutive month, initial claims in Georgia have risen by more than 70 percent over the year,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. “These statistics confirm that Georgians are facing a difficult economic environment. The rising tide of unemployment, housing foreclosures, the credit and fiscal crisis, and the lingering drought have converged to form a perfect storm.”

The department will report the state's October unemployment rate next week, followed by the Columbus rate a week later. Georgia's jobless rate was 6.5 percent in September, while the Columbus rate was 6.9 percent.

Layoffs this year have come from all sectors, the labor department said. However, manufacturing, construction, retail trade and private employment agencies have taken the brunt, it said.