Unemployment claims skyrocket in Stephens

  • Some 548 Stephens County residents filed initial claims for unemployment with the state Department of Labor during the month of March.
    Some 548 Stephens County residents filed initial claims for unemployment with the state Department of Labor during the month of March.
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    Some 548 Stephens County residents filed initial claims for unemployment with the state Department of Labor during the month of March.
    That’s a 1,066 percent increase from the previous month and an 845 percent increase from March of 2019, according the labor department.
    Forty-seven local residents made initial unemployment claims in February, 2020 while 58 filed initial claims in March 2019.
    Statewide, some 312,520 Georgians made initial unemployment claims in March, compared to 22,452 in February, a 1,292 percent increase, and  18,746 in March, 2019, a 1,567 percent increase.
    The skyrocketing number of initial claims is due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Other northeast Georgia counties also experienced drastic increases in initial unemployment claims in March. They included Banks County, 355 March claims compared to only 32 in February, an increase of 1,542 percent. Twenty-nine Banks Countians filed for unemployment in March 2019.
    Elbert County reported 250 initial unemployment claims in March, up from 51 in February, an increase of 390 percent.
    Some 498 Franklin County residents filed jobless claims in March, compared to only 35 in February, a hike of 1,322 percent. Sixty-seven filed claims in March 2019.
    In Habersham County, 1,076 residents filed initial claims, compared to 168 in February, a 540.5 percent increase.
    The story was the same in March 2019 with 168 filing for unemployment.
    Hart County saw a 249 percent surge in jobless claims in March as 342 county residents filed, compared with 98 in February. Only 59 Hart residents filed for unemployment in March 2019.
    Rabun experienced the largest jump in claims in the northeast Georgia area.
    Some 634 county residents filed for unemployment in March 2020, compared with only 27 in February. That’s an increase of 2248.1 percent.
    In March 2019, 17 Rabun residents filed for unemployment compared to 634 this year.
    That’s a jump or 3,629.4 percent. In White County, 954 residents filed for jobless claims in March, compared with 85 in February, a hike of 1022 percent.
    Forty-six White County residents filed for unemployment in March 2019.
    Although no county unemployment numbers for March were available this week, Georgia’s jobless rate statewide rose to 4.1 percent in March, up from 3.8 percent in February due to coronavirus shutdowns.
    March showed a decrease of 77,876 Georgians with jobs, the largest monthly drop since February 2010, according to state labor commissioner Mark Butler.
    “We are reaching unprecedented claim levels of almost 1 million Georgians filing for unemployment,” Butler said. “That is one in every 10 people who are turning to the labor department for unemployment assistance.”
    The sector showing the largest increase in unemployment claims were accommodation and food services with 132,564 initial claims filed in March.
    The healthcare and social assistance sector was next with 37,621 new claims followed by trade with 23,074.  The labor department reported that it has paid out more than $509 million in state and federal unemployment benefits since the middle of last month.