Jobless benefits expiring for almost 400,000 unemployed Georgians

Published 3:42 pm Thursday, April 8, 2021

By Dave Williams
Bureau Chief
Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – Nearly 400,000 unemployed Georgians who filed claims with the state Department of Labor last year at this time are going to have refile with the agency to continue receiving benefits.

The coronavirus pandemic began to gather serious momentum in Georgia at this time a year ago, forcing businesses to close their doors and lay off employees. The initial wave of jobless Georgians who filed claims back then are bumping up against a 52-week benefit limit.

“This was the week last year where we saw the biggest spike in UI (Unemployment Insurance) claims,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “The increase in claims this year is not as severe as we encountered in 2020, but the numbers are still substantially elevated from claims numbers prior to the pandemic.”

While the number of unemployed Georgians filing first-time claims last week declined by 5,659 from the previous week, the labor department received 33,623 initial claims during the week.

The agency has processed more than 4.6 million unemployment claims since COVID-19 first took hold in Georgia in March of last year, more than during the last nine years combined prior to the pandemic.

The job sector accounting for the most claims in Georgia last week by far was accommodation and food services with 12,202 claims. The administrative and support services job sector was next with 3,428 claims, followed by manufacturing with 2,691.

Butler said unemployed Georgians who need to refile claims because they have reached the end of the 52-week period allowed for benefits must report any additional work history, including temporary, part-time or self-employment work.

The labor department has posted more than 226,000 job openings online at https://employgeorgia.com for Georgians to access. The agency offers online resources for finding a job, building a resume and assisting with other reemployment needs.

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.