OH NO: 72% Increase in Unemployment Claims in Georgia

In an effort to ease the tension of an ailing economy, the State Labor Department staffers have been asked to work 10-hour days, and unemployment offices will stay open longer to meet the demand s of jobless persons in the state of Georgia. Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond plans to announce the changes today. The Labor Department’s 53 Career Center offices in Georgia will open at 7:30 a.m., a half-hour earlier, and stay open until 5 p.m., a half-hour later than normal, Thurmond said. In addition, staffers will work four, 10-hour day shifts a week to staff the offices and process the claims. Thurmond said he made the decision to put workers on longer shifts because state budget cuts are keeping him from hiring more employees to deal with the increased workload, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Thurmond said in August, the last month for which statistics are available, there was a 72 percent increase in the number of claims filed over August 2007. The state’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate in August was Georgia’s highest in 15 years. Thurmond said he doesn’t expect it to improve soon. The commissioner has been visiting filing centers across the state, and he said, “We’re maxed out. Savannah, Atlanta, everywhere. We’re packed.”

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