Georgia’s declining jobless rate is good news for the state, but bad news for some who have been out of work for nearly a year. Starting Saturday, some will lose extended unemployment benefits.
Federal law mandates that states must have a three month unemployment average of at least 9 percent in order to offer Tier 4 benefits. That allows someone who has been out of work for 11 and a half months to get up to 7 more weeks of payments.
Georgia’s jobless rate is down to 8 and a half percent.
Brenda Brown, the unemployment insurance director for Georgia, says the loss of Tier 4 goes into effect Saturday, but those already receiving the benefit won’t lose it.
She says “If you exhaust Tier 3 by January the 12th then you move on to Tier 4. But let’s say that you have two weeks of unemployment benefits left in Tier 3. You would not move on to Tier 4.”
Brown says they are seeing a drop in new claims for jobless benefits, but they aren’t seeing a drop in the number of long term unemployed.
“Sometimes there’s a stigma attached to people who are out for quite a while because people think they maybe don’t want to go back to work. I don’t think that that’s the case. A lot of times I think that the job market has just been particularly challenging for a lot of people.”she says.
Brown says the state sees between 35 hundred and 42 hundred people each week exhaust their jobless benefits. That is down from a year ago, when Georgia saw around 65 hundred people a week run out of unemployment payments.
As of last week, 132 thousand people were receiving jobless benefits in Georgia. It is unclear how many of them are long term unemployed who will be impacted by the loss of these benefits.