Augusta unemployment claims dropping since start of shutdown

 

Augusta workers filing for state unemployment benefits as a result of the partial government shutdown have significantly dropped since the first week of the fiscal gridlock.

On Tuesday, there were 539 unemployment insurance claims filed in Georgia by furloughed federal workers and employees working for private companies with a federal contract, bringing the total new claims number to about 10,300 since the shutdown, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Labor.

Only 11 of those claims were filed in Augusta; just less than two weeks earlier there had been about 980 claims coming from the city in a four-day span – the most of all Georgia cities, according to department spokesman Sam Hall.

Of the 5,000 claims applied for across Georgia since Oct. 4, about half came from seven cities that have military bases: Augusta, Columbus, Marietta, Hinesville, Warner Robins, Kings Bay and Savannah.

The state’s labor department has been keeping a daily hand count on new claims filed in those military communities to see whether the trend continued, but many of the furloughed employees have since returned to work, said Hall, adding that he expects any remaining claims to come from Atlanta because of the area’s high concentration of federal agencies.

Nearly all of the 490 civilian employees furloughed at Fort Gordon returned to work early last week, but more than 1,000 contracted workers at Savannah River Site remain out of work, with additional furloughs expected if an agreement to resolve the fiscal gridlock isn’t soon reached.

There are stipulations regarding which and how many displaced workers will actually see unemployment benefits, Hall said.

Workers earning more than $330 in a week would be ineligible to receive benefits, meaning that some jobless people missing work for just a couple of days probably would not get a payment, Hall said.

In addition, furloughed federal workers would be required to repay any benefits they received during the shutdown if the Senate approves a bill to provide them with back pay. Furloughed employees contracted through private companies would not qualify for those funds.

 

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