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Number of first-time jobless filers in Georgia skyrockets
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced that 120,139 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits in January, an increase of 80.7 percent from January 2008.

The metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of increase in claims are Dalton, up 164.7 percent; Brunswick, up 163.7 percent; and Rome, up 153.4 percent. The areas with the smallest increase in claims are Columbus, up 21 percent; Valdosta, up 35.4 percent; and Savannah, up 39.1 percent.

"We are witnessing the emergence of a 'Darwinian' job market," said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. "The growing number of layoffs has created a surplus of jobseekers who are talented, experienced, educated and well-trained. In this challenging environment, the most successful jobseekers will be those who demonstrate the highest levels of persistence, determination and above all, flexibility when looking for work."

Most of the state initial claims were filed by laid-off workers in manufacturing, trade, administrative services, including temporary employment agencies and construction. The number of jobless workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits rose 92 percent over the year, from 95,870 in January 2008 to 183,829 in January 2009.

Also, in January, the GDOL processed 14,205 first-time claims for federal extended unemployment benefits, bringing the total to 125,589 since the federal program began in Georgia in July 2008. Federal extended benefits are available to jobless workers who have exhausted regular state unemployment compensation.

Thurmond urged jobseekers to continue to look for work, explore training and education opportunities and to make full use of the department's re-employment services available at the 53 Georgia Department of Labor Career Centers around the state. The locations of the career centers may be accessed via the Internet at