ATLANTA - New unemployment figures are out. Georgia is at the highest unemployment rate on record, nearly 12 percent. It passed the previous record from the Great Recession which was 10.6 percent a decade ago.
But Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler remains optimistic the economy will weather this. In a weekly chat, he reminded us that 10 years ago there was a recession. No jobs. Today, we have jobs, but we can’t get to them because a health emergency is in the way.
Unemployment benefits are patching holes in budgets, but for individual filers they’ve been slower to arrive. The verification process takes longer, according to the commissioner.
“We have to establish a lot of facts, (like), you are who you say you are you. And you did work for that person? And, you were let go through no fault of your own. That’s a very important distinction right there. “
3 THINGS THAT SLOW PAYMENTS DOWN
- Georgia DOL has to determine that you were not re-offered your job but declined.
- They have to follow state law, and the new, modified federal provisions.
- And, finally, fraud. They have to be sure it’s not a fraudulent claim.
Another topic that came up on the Thursday call with Commissioner Mark Butler is troubling and often wrong advice offered by internet chat rooms or social media threads.
“Like telling people that if you keep certifying over and over again, the exact same weeks, you’ll get paid faster. No, that actually slows things down. Just like we see a lot of people give information, like, if it’s been two or three weeks and you haven’t gotten paid, file another claim because that’ll speed things up. That absolutely will not. That will absolutely lock up your claim that will not get paid or get approved until somebody goes in there and does a manual release on that claims because you have two claims.”
But, getting back to that jarring 11.9 percent unemployment figure. Yeah, it’s not good, but the patches are here.
Unemployment checks are arriving. PUA is in the pockets of gig workers. FPUC, the extra $600 added to unemployment benefits, is delivered, as are stimulus checks. Both state and federally, they’ve added to the number of weeks you can get benefits. It’s not smooth sailing, but the boat is moving forward.
Lastly, the hardest hit industries - hospitality, restaurants, bars, and accommodations - make up 42 percent of state job losses. On the state’s site, EMPLOY GEORGIA, there are 97,000 job openings listed. Perhaps there’s something there until your business re-opens.