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Initial unemployment claims continue to rise
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Labor announced that 45,553 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in June, a 35.9 percent increase over the same period a year ago. The May to June increase was 1.9 percent. Most of the increase came in trade and services. Initial claims are considered to be a good barometer of economic activity.

“The June report is further confirmation of the trend toward higher unemployment,” state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said. “Since the beginning of the year, initial claims have been running in excess of 30 percent over the same period last year. The economic downturn that began with the credit crunch has accelerated with significant costs of food and fuel causing many employers to reduce hiring or eliminate jobs.

“I encourage job seekers to take note that some employers are still hiring and that the Georgia Department of Labor can help connect them,” Thurmond continued.

The total number of individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits was up 46.7 percent over the year, from 55,450 in June 2007 to 81,321 in June 2008.  

Thurmond commended Congress and President Bush for their efforts to extend unemployment insurance benefits to jobless Americans.

The president signed into law H.R. 2642, the supplemental appropriations bill that provides up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

Every jobless Georgian who may be eligible for extended benefits will be notified by mail and provided with instructions on how to apply.

Thurmond said, “The Georgia Department of Labor is preparing to pay extended benefits to workers in Georgia who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. These benefits will become available as soon as the federal government provides the necessary funding.”

The 14 metro areas of the state and the changes in their initial claims from May to June are as follows:
• Albany, up 167, or 24.7 percent, from 676 to 843.
• Athens, down 110, or 15.5 percent, from 710 to 600.
• Atlanta, up 46, or two-tenths of one percent, from 19,249 to 19,295.
• Augusta, down 92, or 6.3 percent, from 1,454 to 1,362.
• Brunswick, up 67, or 17 percent, from 395 to 462.
• Columbus, up 22, or 2.9 percent, from 758 to 780.
• Dalton, down 588, or 24.7 percent, from 2,377 to 1,789.
• Gainesville, up 14, or 2.2 percent, from 630 to 644.
• Hinesville, up five, or 3.1 percent, from 159 to 164.
• Macon, down 85, or 7.1 percent, from 1,189 to 1,104.
• Rome, down 237, or 31.1 percent, from 762 to 525.
• Savannah, up 385, or 40.3 percent, from 955 to 1,340.
• Valdosta, down 37, or 4.5 percent, from 822 to 785.
• Warner Robins, up four, or one percent, from 385 to 389.

Georgia labor market data are not seasonally adjusted and are available at