IRS employee Donna Orton, center, holds a sign protesting the government shutdown at the James V. Hansen Federal Building on Jan. 10, 2019 in Ogden, Utah. (Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
Photo: Natalie Behring/Getty Images
Photo: Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Georgia unemployment claims by federal workers continue to surge

The wave of federal employees filing for unemployment benefits in Georgia continues to surge, as the partial federal government shutdown persists and more workers scramble for assistance.

More than 1,200 federal employees sought new unemployment benefits last week, accounting for about one in 10 new claims the state received in that time period, according to data the Georgia Department of Labor released Wednesday. Only 34 federal employees sought benefits in the year-earlier period.

The sharp increase comes after nearly 450 federal workers in Georgia filed unemployment claims in the two weeks before that, representing roughly an eight-fold increase from the year-earlier period.

Last week marked the first missed paychecks for many of the roughly 16,000 federal employees in Georgia who have been furloughed or are being required to work without pay since the partial shutdown began Dec. 22.

New unemployment claims overall in Georgia rose to 13,145 last week from 11,290 in the year-earlier period.

Some furloughed federal workers may qualify for unemployment benefits, though they will ultimately have to repay the assistance if they later receive back pay.

But others who are required to work during the shutdown without pay, such as Transportation Security Agency officers, won’t qualify for the benefits at all, according to the state.

Georgia’s overall labor picture has been good for job seekers, with monthly unemployment rates the lowest they’ve been since 2001.

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