Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.
More jobless claims are being filed during the coronavirus pandemic than during the 2008-09 Great Recession, the Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday, March 26.
The number of claims statewide last week was 12,140, up 6,695 from the previous week’s 5,445 claims, according to a labor department press release.
The department “anticipates substantially higher claims in the coming weeks,” the department said.
Also, the number of users on its website has skyrocketed, increasing from 59,000 in the first week of March to 110,000 on Wednesday, March 25.
The Department of Labor has specific instructions about how to file amid the pandemic.
lso, new emergency rules for unemployment benefits have been put in place.
The length of time someone can collect benefits has been extended from 14 weeks to 26 weeks. And a person can now make up to $300 weekly at a part-time job and receive their full unemployment amount. Previously, the maximum amount was $50 weekly.
Other emergency rules were issued last week, expanding unemployment eligibility for applicants, suspending work search requirements and relieving employers of benefit charges for COVID-19-related claims.
Unemployment benefits have been expanded to cover people temporarily unable to work due to the health crisis.
Also, employers must file temporary job loss claims for both full-time and part-time employees — a move expected to speed up payments to workers.
“We understand Georgia businesses and workers are anxious during the COVID-19 public health crisis about how to take care of themselves, their families, and their businesses,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “We are making unprecedented modifications to policies to help all Georgians survive this economic hardship and get us all back to work.”
Gov. Brian Kemp said on the issue: “I ask Georgians to continue to support their local businesses by getting take-out, tipping well, and ordering your favorite products online, while also observing social distancing and following the directives of state and federal public health officials.”