First-time unemployment insurance claims rise 126 percent in Georgia

About 96,306 jobless workers in Georgia filed for unemployment insurance benefits for the first time in March — an increase of about 126 percent compared to March of 2008, the Georgia Department of Labor said today.

Most of the initial claims were filed by out-of-work employees in manufacturing, construction, trade and administrative and support services.

The Georgia metropolitan areas of Gainesville, Rome and Brunswick saw the highest percentage of increase in initial claims at 249 percent, 218 percent and 185 percent, respectively. Valdosta, Hinesville and Albany saw the smallest increase at about 45 percent, 70 percent and 85 percent, respectively.

In March, the number of jobless workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits jumped 133 percent from March of 2008. The Georgia Department of Labor also processed 20,740 first-time claims last month for Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, which are federal extended benefits for unemployed workers who have run out of regular state unemployment benefits. That brings the total to almost 162,000 using the program in Georgia since July 2008.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond encouraged job seekers to keep looking for work, explore training and education opportunities and take advantage of services at the department’s 53 career centers across Georgia. Go to www.dol.state.ga.us for more information.