Employer Filed Claims Dominate Record-Setting Claims Numbers

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, April 24th, 2020

Last week, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) processed 247,003 initial claims with employer filed claims accounting for 94%. In the past month, GDOL has processed 1,090,536 claims, more than the combined total for the previous three years.  Unemployment initial claims throughout the United States decreased 810,000 last week to 4.4 million.

“Employer filed claims have proven to be beneficial not only for employers wishing to provide financial support for employees until they can get them back to work, but also employees who are able to work a few hours a week and still receive state and federal benefits,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Despite claims to the contrary, returning to work does not automatically eliminate an individual’s state unemployment eligibility.”

Pursuant to the emergency rule issued on March 26, 2020, an individual can earn up to $300 per week without reducing their weekly benefit amount.  This allowsemployees to work reduced hours and still qualify for state weekly benefits and the federal $600 weekly supplement.

“We are working very diligently to come up with solutions to get Georgians back to work as soon as it is safe to do so,” Butler said. “Although some people are returning to work, the GDOL will continue to process and make payments for all weeks an individual was eligible for benefits.”

The sectors with the most initial claims last week included Accommodation and Food Services, 67,774 (334,659 over the last four weeks), Health Care and Social Assistance, 31,266, Retail Trade, 30,672, Manufacturing, 28,597, and Administrative and Support Services, 18,140.

Last week, GDOL issued regular state UI benefits totaling $101,368,795, up $32 million over the previous week.  Over the last four weeks, $227 million has been paid in regular state UI benefits, with $309 million paid for the year, more than the annual total for each of the previous two years ($298 million in 2019 and $300 million in 2018).

The total federal unemployment benefits issued last week for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, totaled almost $364 million. FPUC provides an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the unemployment compensation programs - state and federal.

Yesterday, GDOL began sending over 257,000 emails to applicants potentially eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to continue their application process for federal benefits.  PUA includes individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. These individuals will complete the next step of the PUA application and submit it for processing. An email will be sent confirming processing of the application and informing the applicant of the date when he/she can begin certifying for benefits.  This email will also provide a secure email address to send employment and wage documentation for Tax Year January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019. A weekly determination amount will be decided, and the claimant will receive a PUA Benefits Determination letter in the mail stating the weekly benefit amount. If you are able to establish a valid claim, an individual will also receive a PUA Claims Examiner’s Determination letter informing the claimant if benefits are approved or denied.