About 335,000 other claims were filed requesting federal pandemic assistance.
Despite the number of people filing for unemployment benefits, Georgia labor commissioner Mark Butler said other data is encouraging.
“Georgia is one of the leading states in the country in job creation,” he said. “We created 44,700 jobs in December.”
Still, while the Georgia economy has added jobs for eight consecutive months, the market has been uneven.
Hiring has been strong for some tech jobs and for the kind of warehouse and logistics work spurred by online shopping. But businesses that rely on in-person transactions have been hamstrung by the continued spread of COVID-19, which has kept many consumers at home.
And while Georgia’s unemployment rate is 5.6% — lower than the national average of 6.3% — those official rates understate the weakness of the labor market, said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a speech Wednesday.
The official rate does not count people who are not actively looking for a job. And he said many jobless people are not looking. Some have childcare responsibilities that keep them home. Some are discouraged about prospects. Some are counting on unemployment benefits to float them until risks of the pandemic subside.
The state’s labor force is about 200,000 workers smaller than it was a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In Georgia, the state’s job board lists about 183,000 openings. Roughly 400,000 people in the state are receiving some kind of unemployment benefits.
Since mid-March, the state has processed about 4.4 million claims, more than one-third of them judged to be valid. The Department of Labor also has found numerous cases of fraud.
About 1,500 people had contacted the department to say they received 1099-G tax forms assessing them for taxes due on unemployment benefits that they never applied for, according to the department.
Weekly jobless claims, Georgia
41,522: Worst, pre-pandemic weekly jobless claims (Jan. 10, 2010)
390,132: Highest, pandemic weekly jobless claims (April 4, 2020)
5,548: Average, pre-pandemic weekly jobless claims
29,314: Average, the last four weeks
26,111: Last week’s jobless claims
4.4 million: Total since Mar. 21
New jobless claims, Georgia, week ending:
35,912: For week ending Jan. 16
28,016: For week ending Jan. 23
27,215: For week ending Jan. 30
32,386: For week ending Feb. 6
Sources: Georgia Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration