New jobless claims still high in October, worse than September but slightly better than a year ago

Any improvement in the economy is not yet showing up at the state’s unemployment offices.

Based on the numbers of people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits, layoffs in October were slightly lower than a year ago, but higher than in September, according to a report Thursday from the state Labor Department.

Officials said 70,597 laid-off workers filed claims last month.

That is a 6 percent rise from September, but because of seasonal variations, year to year comparisons are often the best guide to trends. Unfortunately, this one is not especially encouraging: claims were down only 2.8 percent from the same month a year ago, a moment when the financial crisis was intensifying.

“This is a stark reminder that job losses are continuing at rates comparable to those experienced at the height [of the recession that started nearly two years ago],” said Michael Thurmond state labor commissioner.

Government reports show the economy growing for the first time in the third quarter -- growth that is expected to moderate, but continue into next year. But economic growth does not always mean job growth -- and few companies say they are aggressively expanding.

So even if job cuts have eased ever-so-slightly from last fall, hiring has not increased enough to soak up those who are laid-off.

Nearly 131,000 Georgians were receiving state jobless benefits in October, while an additional 146,000 others were paid federally-funded extended benefits.

The state’s official jobless rate in September – adjusted for seasonal variation – was 10.1 percent. That means nearly a half-million Georgians were out of work and looking for a job, not including people who have retired, gone back to school or simply given up looking. The jobless rate for October is to be announced next week.

With hiring anemic, the average Georgian who is laid off draws unemployment checks for 14.4 weeks, the labor department reported: That is a 24 percent increase from October of 2008.

Nationally, new jobless claims slipped slightly last week, but remain above 500,000 – well above the mark that signals a weak job market.

About the Author

Editors' Picks