Air traffic controller Rafael Naveira and fellow ATC workers protest the federal shutdown at the north terminal.
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Georgia unemployment claims soar for federal workers during shutdown

Unemployment filings by federal workers have surged in Georgia in the wake of the partial government shutdown.

And those figures could rise even more as the closures persist. 

Nearly 450 federal workers made new unemployment claims in the two weeks ending Jan. 5, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

That compares to almost 25,000 new unemployment claims the state received from all sectors in the same two-week period.

Recent filings by federal workers also represent only a fraction of the nearly 16,000 federal workers in Georgia that have been furloughed or are working without pay during the partial federal government shutdown.

Nonetheless, the filings represent a more than eight-fold increase in the number of claims filed by federal workers locally compared to the same period a year ago, according to analysis of data provided by the state on Monday. 

The surge in claims could grow.

Georgia has yet to tabulate filings made by federal workers last week, when thousands of local federal employees for the first time missed a paycheck due to the shutdown.

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 and air traffic controllers, 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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