Atlanta, GA - The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percentage points to reach 5.6 percent in December while the state saw a significant increase in the number of jobs.

"December is yet another month where we have seen job growth throughout the state," said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "We more than doubled our job growth from November, which is very promising, considering how challenging of a year this has been. Georgia has gained back 82 percent of the jobs we lost at the beginning of the pandemic and continue to remain strong in economic growth and business development."

Jobs in December increased by 44,700, reaching a total of 4,558,900. That number is down 81,200 compared to this same time last year. The job total listed online at EmployGeorgia has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic from the April 2020 listing of just 73,000 jobs.

Of the over 170,000 jobs currently listed on EmployGeorgia, over half of them advertise annual salaries over $40,000. In many cases, employers are willing to train quality candidates and assist with attainment of additional credentials. The sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included Administrative and Support Services, 10,900, Accommodation and Food Services, 9,700, Retail Trade, 7,800, Transportation and Warehousing, 3,200, and Durable Goods Manufacturing, 2,700.

In December, the number of employed Georgians was down 25,726 to reach a total of 4,841,339, but the number of employed was up by 561,415 since April.

Georgia’s labor force in December saw a decrease of 32,978, reaching a total of 5,127,620. However, the number is up 233,224 since the start of the pandemic in April.

The GDOL continues to update its system to implement the newest extensions for the Continued Assistance Act (CAA) included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 providing extended benefits for claimants on PEUC and PUA. These updates are being implemented in phases and a complete list of the implementation schedule can be found on the GDOL website at https://dol.georgia.gov/gdol-covid-19-information.

The additional requirements issued by the USDOL must be integrated into the GDOL systems before eligible payments can be released. These requirements include additional proof of employment and self-employment verification for PUA claimants, increased identification verification requirements, job refusal and failure to return to work reporting capabilities, additional fraud detection tools, and additional changes to the PEUC & PUA programs. The GDOL has already issued payments without interruption for those who had not exhausted PUA and PEUC benefits and continued to request weekly payments. The agency has started issuing payments for claimants who had exhausted regular UI benefits on or after 1/10/2021 and claimants that exhausted SEB before 12/26/2020 and continued to request weekly payments. The agency anticipates payments for additional pools of claimants who exhausted benefits to continue over the next two weeks.

The GDOL asks claimants to check his/her My UI portal for individual updates on their claim. Based on the regulations of the new legislation, a claim may be moved from one program to another, weeks of eligibility may be extended, or weekly benefit amounts may be adjusted if a claim is moving from PUA to PEUC. Specific instructions for providing additional information, if needed, will be found in a claimant’s My UI portal.

The GDOL also encourages claimants to continue to request weekly payments for those who have exhausted benefits or are waiting on determinations on eligibility. Determinations are continuing to be issued for claimants awaiting eligibility decisions when a job separation is other than lack of work or includes other potential issues that can affect eligibility, such as receipt of severance or retirement pay, refusal to accept suitable job offers, or failure to return to work. All eligible payments will be issued when a decision on eligibility is released, including any additional weeks of benefits a claimant could potentially be eligible for with the implementation of the new program extensions.
 
The Georgia Department of Labor has paid nearly $17.3 billion in state and federal benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March of this year. Last week, the GDOL issued $244 million in benefits, which include regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits.

In December, initial unemployment claims increased by 19 percent (20,110) since November to reach 124,285. Since week ending March 21, 2020, 4,305,242 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the nine years prior to the pandemic combined (4 million). Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 35,912, down 1,127 over the week. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 346,631 PUA claims have been processed.

The sectors with the most weekly regular UI initial claims processed included Accommodation and Food Services, 8,132, Manufacturing, 5,040, Administrative and Support Services, 3,726, Retail Trade, 2,620, Health Care and Social Assistance, 2,178, and Transportation and Warehousing, 2,178.

The number of initial unemployment claims filed throughout the United States for the week ending January 16, was 900,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 926,000.

Resources for reemployment assistance along with Information on filing an unemployment claim and details on how employers can file partial claims can be found on the agency's webpage at dol.georgia.gov.

For more information on jobs and current labor force date, visit the Georgia Labor Force Market Explorer at explorer.gdol.ga.gov to view a comprehensive report.