Georgia jobless claims drop amid shaky economic recovery

Employers seek new workers, but rising COVID cases weighs on economy

New jobless claims in Georgia fell last week amid a still-choppy economic recovery as new coronavirus cases climb and business owners try to return to normal.

Initial unemployment claims for the week ending Nov. 28 totaled 19,183, down 34% from the previous week, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

But the number has bounced up and down this fall. For the week ending Nov. 21, new jobless claims climbed 48%. Earlier in October and November, new claims had declined for five consecutive weeks. And while claims are much lower than in the spring, they remain much higher than before the pandemic.

Georgia’s initial unemployment claims last week reflected national trends. The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell 10% to 712,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. That’s still far higher than what had been the typical rate before the pandemic hit, when the U.S. processed about 225,000 new claims each week.

Some employers remain on the hunt for new workers. About 164,000 job openings are listed on the state’s EmployGeorgia website, according to the Labor Department. That’s fewer than the number of jobs lost during the pandemic.

Casting a shadow, COVID-19 cases continue to surge as the weather gets colder. The U.S. is reporting about 160,000 new cases per day on average. In Georgia the 7-day rolling average of new cases hit 2,607 on Dec. 2, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

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