SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The coronavirus pandemic continues to negatively impact the job market, now in its seventh week where unemployment claims have topped three million in the nation.
That brings the total number of people who have lost jobs to more than 33 million or about 20 percent of the workforce.
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has paid out nearly $2 billion in unemployment benefits in seven weeks — which adds up to about half a million people receiving benefits.
But according to new data, about 84 percent of Georgia residents eligible for unemployement benefits have actually received them.
In a virtual press briefing Thursday, GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler explained how Georgians can help speed up the process.
“Make sure you’ve certified for your weeks. Go in there and log in under the system,” he said. “If you go into the system and it shows that you haven’t requested any weeks, and it does show — then you need to do that.”
Butler said part of what’s slowing down the system is people logging on when they really shouldn’t be.
“The biggest issue that we’re having right now is that a lot of people are calling in unnecessarily,” he said. “They may be already getting payments, and they just want to know when the next one is coming.”
The commissioner also said some applicants who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits may be eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance or PUA. That includes the self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, non-profits, or those with limited work history.
So far the those Georgia workers have received a total of $4 million in benefit payouts.
And there seems to be some positive news for South Carolina unemployment numbers: the state has seen its third decrease in unemployment claims since mid-March.