Georgia Labor commissioner: Look for work or risk losing unemployment benefits

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Some Georgia employers are having trouble finding workers, prompting a warning from the state Department of Labor. Soon, those receiving unemployment benefits will have to prove they are trying to get a job or risk losing payments.

The requirement has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to thousands of Georgians losing their jobs and many businesses curtailing hours or closing.

But jobless claims are down 27% from a month ago. For the week ending May 1, the Department of Labor processed 25,429 initial claims, down 11.5% from the previous week.

A release from the state Department of Labor said almost 239,000 open jobs are listed on its EmployGeorgia website.

With the growing number of jobs, the department will reinstate requirements in “the next few months” that those receiving unemployment benefits show they are trying to find work, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. Typically, that means registering for employment services at, completing job applications online or in person, interviewing with employers or placement agencies, or participating in job fairs.

Those who don’t could be disqualified from receiving more help, he said.

“We are hearing from employers that are struggling to meet demand right now due to the lack of applicants for open positions,” Butler said.

“I hear every day from employers who have been forced to reduce business hours, refuse large deliveries and turn down economic opportunities due to the simple fact that they did not have the staff to support them,” he said.

Nationally, the number of initial unemployment claims was 498,000, a decrease of 92,000. The number of weekly jobless claims has declined from a peak of 900,000 in January as employers have ramped up hiring, consumers are spending more, and the economy gains momentum.

The Georgia Department of Labor said sectors with the most new unemployment claims include accommodation and food Services, 6,224; administrative and support services, 2,083; manufacturing, 1,755; retail 1,317; and health care, 1,200.

The department has processed 4,745,554 unemployment claims since March 2020 and paid more than $21.2 billion in state and federal benefits.

By the numbers

27%: Drop in jobless claims in Georgia from a month ago

25,429: Number of initial claims for the week ending May 1

11.5%: Drop in initial claims for the week ending May 1 compared to the previous week