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How to file an unemployment claim amid coronavirus threat
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The Georgia Department of Labor office is located at 2756 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

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Georgia is seeing a spike in temporary unemployment claims being filed in the wake of the novel coronavirus health crisis, state officials said Wednesday, March 18.

Exact numbers aren’t known yet.

“We are doing all we can to get claims processed and work out the duplicates, where employee and employer might have filed,” Georgia Department of Labor spokeswoman Kersha Cartwright said. “I hope we might have some kind of estimate soon.”

On Tuesday, March 17, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler ordered that employers must file claims on behalf of employees “whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period,” Cartwright said.

“We are laser-focused on assisting the hardworking Georgians who have been impacted by the spread of the virus,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a Wednesday statement.

"Working with (the labor department) and our partners across the public and private sectors, we can ensure affected employees land on their feet and are made aware of other employment opportunities. Together, we will protect Georgia's top-notch workforce as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19."

How to file an unemployment claim

The Department of Labor provides information, including what you'll need and how to file online.

Butler said: “We are partnering with the governor’s office and our federal and state authorities to make sure we are able to get the citizens of Georgia paid. We are working as an agency to provide innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers, even when information is changing every day.”

Filing partial claims results in employees receiving unemployment insurance benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically. 

Georgia employers share in the cost of unemployment benefits paid to employees temporarily displaced due to COVID-19.

Otherwise, some 101,000 jobs are listed online at employgeorgia.com, along with resources for finding a job, building a resume and other reemployment needs.

“Our agency specializes in not only providing unemployment support for those out of work, even if temporarily, but also giving Georgians every opportunity to find work and re-enter the workforce,” Butler said.

Jobless claims are surging across the U.S. 

In Ohio, more than 48,000 people applied for jobless benefits during the first two days of this week. The tally during the same period the prior week: just 1,825.

In neighboring Pennsylvania, about 70,000 people sought unemployment aid in a single day — six times the total for the entire previous week.

“Our unemployment insurance fund is getting hit pretty hard right now,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, where coronavirus-related jobless claims accelerated from zero to nearly 18,000 in barely one week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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