SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) says weekly unemployment claims are decreasing for the third time in four weeks. But the goods news comes as several state agencies report they may have to furlough staff members next year.
Weekly regular initial claims totaled 165,499 in Georgia, which GDOL says is 12,000 fewer claims than the previous week. The trend matches a national one. GDOL says the United States witnessed a 323,000 decrease in unemployment claims this week.
Of unemployment claims in Georgia, Commissioner Mark Butler says around 100,000 were duplicate claims.
“One claim is good,” he said of people attempting to submit multiple claims on their own behalf. “Be patient.”
Commissioner Butler says there are no plans yet to open unemployment offices, which have been closed for weeks after concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“Opening our offices …is not going to get anything done faster,” he said.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says he wants the state to reduce its budget by 14 percent in 2021. Each state agency was asked to submit a proposal on how to make it happen.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Georgia State Patrol — among other agencies — suggested furloughs and hiring freezes. Commissioner Butler says the GDOL should be exempt from budget cuts.
In addition to an increasingly heavy workload, Commissioner Butler says unlike other agencies that are funded by income taxes, “[GDOL] actually takes a small percentage of the unemployment taxes that we collect from employers…and that money is where our funds come from.”
All funding recommendations are under consideration until the governor and both state houses approve the final 2021 state budget.