More than 25,000 Northwest Georgians filed first-time unemployment claims in May, dwarfing 817 claims from the five-county area a year earlier but also down from the 43,217 applications in April of this year.
The latest reports from the Georgia Department of Labor show month-over-month decreases, especially in Bartow County where April saw 16,521 claims compared to 9,181 in May. Bartow County has seen several key layoffs or shutdowns since the pandemic began, including 138 jobs shed by Trinity Industries; 120 jobs by Vulcan Metal in Adairsville; and 65 at American’s Auto Auction Atlanta in Cartersville.
In Rome/Floyd County, there was some recovery as the labor force grew to 41,200 in May after falling to 39,600 in April. Compared to May 2019, the county was down 600 jobs.
The latest from the state Labor Department
Media release: The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today the May preliminary unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, a decrease of 2.9 percent from April’s 12.6 percent. The number of employed was up 144,877 over April, but down 480,592 compared to this time last year totaling 4,424,801. Georgia’s labor force number of 4,900,139 reported for May was up 5,743 over April, but down 186,179 when compared to May 2019.
“I think we are going to continue to see big drops in the unemployment rate as Georgia continues to open back up,” said Commissioner Mark Butler. “We have to remember that the recent unemployment was not caused by an economic catalyst, but instead by a medical emergency. Those jobs are still out there for the most part.”
Jobs were up 79,600 over the month of April showing gains in Accommodation and Food Services (45,800), Health Care and Social Assistance (10,700), Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing (7,000), Administrative and Support Services (6,300), Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (4,600), and Wholesale Trade (4,500). Although the over the month job growth increased, jobs are down 403,100 when compared to this same time last year. The job total for May 2020 was 4,200,100.
There were 71,795 statewide job postings during the month of May. Top occupations included registered nurse (3,000), retail sales associate (2,000), tractor-trailer truck driver (2,000), software developer/engineer (2,000), and physician (2,000).
“I think as Georgia starts to reopen, we’ve got to really take a look at where the permanent job losses are going to be,” said Commissioner Butler. “Through our strategic partnerships, we can help match those individuals who may have lost their job to the many job openings currently available, even if that takes some retraining.”
Today, over 95,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The GDOL offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs.
The GDOL also announced that $6,145,180,406 in state and federal benefits have been paid to claimants across the state during the past 13 weeks. This includes payments in regular state UI, Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
Payments over last week totaled $147,670,769 in regular weekly unemployment benefits, down $9 million over the week. Since March 21, over $1.6 billion has been paid in regular state UI benefits. Over the last four weeks, benefit payment totals have ranged between $145 million to $160 million, and based upon preliminary data for week ending 6/20/2020, this trend will continue for a fifth week.
Initial claims were down 517,861 (-38%) over the month, but up 815,486 (3,964%) over this time last year, to reach a total of 836,060 in May. Of the total, 552,335 (66%) were employer filed claims.
Weekly regular state UI initial claims totaled 131,997 for the week ending June 6, down 3,257 over the previous week. Of the weekly total, 84,808 (64%) were employer filed claims. Initial claims have declined six of the last seven weeks.
“The decrease in regular weekly claims is indicative of a recovering workforce who are now ready to return to work,” said Commissioner Butler. “We predict a continual decrease in these weekly claims as businesses return to pre-COVID conditions and Georgians increase their spending habits.”
The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States was 1,508,000, a decrease of 58,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 1,566,000.
Last week, the GDOL issued over $56 million in PUA payments to individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. From week ending 3/21/2020 through 6/13/2020, 188,022 PUA claims have been processed and are eligible for payment.
In addition, the total federal funds issued for FPUC totaled almost $497 million last week. Over the past 13 weeks, the GDOL has issued more than $4.1 billion in FPUC funds. FPUC provides an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the unemployment compensation programs – state and federal.
As of June 16, the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Balance was $1,293,107,612 down $1.254 billion, or 49 percent, from the March 24 balance of $2,547,476,454.
At this time, the GDOL career centers are remaining closed to the public. All online services are still available as the staff continues to answer phones, return emails, and assist applicants. The GDOL will open offices to the public as soon as social distancing can be effectively implemented to protect both staff and customers.
This week, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) launched the United States Department of Labor’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. This program provides extended monetary support for claimants who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits. PEUC is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, which extends eligibility of unemployment benefits up to 13 weeks.
“Many people who applied for UI in the first weeks of our Covid-19 economic shutdown are rapidly approaching the end of their initial cycle of UI benefits. This program will give claimants who have exhausted their benefits the ability to continue to receive financial support for up to an additional 13 weeks,” said Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler. “In a crisis, such as COVID-19, programs like PEUC are necessary to ensure all claimants are taken care of, while continuing to get Georgians back to work.”
Claimants who are potentially eligible for PEUC are those who have received all of the unemployment benefits they are eligible for in their regular unemployment claim and whose benefit year ends after July 1, 2019. According to the CARES guidelines, the first payable week ending date (WED) of PEUC is April 4, 2020 and the final WED PEUC may be paid is December 26, 2020. For example, if a claimants benefits have run out and their final regular unemployment payment is for WED April 11, 2020, then their PEUC claim will be effective April 12, 2020. Their first potential PEUC payment would be April 18, 2020.
“Although programs like PEUC are essential, building these complex and multifaceted systems takes time and attention to detail,” Butler said. “Our Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Information Technology (IT) teams have been challenged with the unprecedented task of developing and executing these programs with extraordinary timelines. Our entire team has been amazing with their time and dedication to getting these programs created so that Georgians can receive benefits. As we receive further instruction from the USDOL on guidelines and regulations, we will continue to update our programs and keep our claimants informed on any changes.”
The GDOL announced that $5.4 billion in state and federal benefits have been paid to claimants across the state during the past 12 weeks. This includes payments in regular state UI, PUA, and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
Weekly regular state UI initial claims totaled 135,254, down about 14,000 over the previous week. Of the weekly total, 85,244 (63 percent) were employer-filed claims. Initial claims have declined five of the last six weeks.
Payments over last week totaled $156.7 million in regular weekly unemployment benefits, down $4.1 million over the prior week. Since March 21, over $1.4 billion has been paid in regular state UI benefits.
Over the past 12 weeks, the sectors with the most regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services, 625,213, Health Care and Social Assistance, 288,476, Retail Trade, 283,126, Administrative and Support Services, 204,925, and Manufacturing, 191,135.
As of June 9, the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Balance was $1.47 billion, down $1.08 billion, or 42 percent, from the balance of $2.55 billion on March 24.