Georgia reports highest unemployment rate on record

May 27, 2020–6:23 a.m.


The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today an April preliminary unemployment rate of 11.9 percent. The number of unemployed increased from 342,601 to 581,820. April’s numbers represent the highest one-month recorded increase and also the highest total unemployment on record. Georgia’s April 2020 number of unemployed is more than 80,000 higher than the height of the Great Recession of 2009-2010.

“This is the highest unemployment rate on record, eclipsing the previous high of 10.6 percent that occurred in December 2010,” said Commissioner Mark Butler. “However, the cause of this high unemployment rate differs greatly from that of the previous record, and I have no doubt that we will recover just as quickly and get back to our record lows once again.”

Jobs were down 492,100 (-10.7 percent) over the month of April to 4,126,500, the lowest level since April 2014.  The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes the food services and drinking places and accommodation sectors, accounted for 206,700 of the job loss, 42 percent of the total.

The Rome area lost 2,100 jobs from March to April.

The number is down by 1,800 when compared to April of last year.

Commissioner Butler said, “The surge in initial claims in accommodation and food services, retail trade, health care, manufacturing, and administrative and support services accounted for two-thirds of all initial claims processed.”

The GDOL announced it has issued over $3.1 billion in combined state and federal unemployment benefits in the past nine weeks.  Since the middle of March (week ending March 21, 2020), GDOL has processed 2,018,096 regular initial unemployment claims, more than the last five years combined (1.7 million).  Of these claims, 855,088 were valid as the claimant had earned enough reported wages to receive benefits. 651,000Georgians (86 percent of all those filing for unemployment) have already received their first payment. Of the remaining unpaid claims, many are still in the claims process awaiting eligibility determination. This also includes claims where duplicate claims have been filed, identification has been requested, excessive weekly earnings have been reported, or child support stops have been issued.  These claims require additional handling and the GDOL is working diligently to address many of these stops.

Last week, the GDOL issued over $55 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (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. 132,888 PUA applications were processed and were eligible for payment. Over 25,000 applications have been processed, but have still not requested a payment. Applicants must request a payment each week to be issued benefits.

GDOL processed 177,731 regular state UI claims last week, a decrease of 65,000 from the week prior.  These claims totaled $187,412,786 in benefits for the week and totaled $927,514,749 over the past nine weeks.Of the weekly total, 132,191 were employer filed claims, seventy five percent of all claims. The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States was 2.4 million last week, a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

In addition, the total federal funds issued for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, totaled over $545 million last week.  Over the past nine weeks, the GDOL has issued over $2.1 billion in FPUC federal funds. FPUC provides an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the unemployment compensation programs – state and federal.

As of last week, the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Balance was $1,795,322,812, down $752 million, or 30 percent, from the balance of $2,547,476,454 for week ending March 24.

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.

The GDOL is also continuing to work with employers to get Georgians back to work.  Employers have been contacting the GDOL with job opportunities that are critical during this crisis – some in the workplace and others that can be done from home. Today, over 97,000 jobs are listed online at for Georgians to access. The GDOL offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume, and assisting with other reemployment needs.

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