Georgia labor department expands hours for more claims

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ATLANTA — State Department of Labor employees will work 10-hour days in a double-barreled approach to a 70 percent surge in unemployment claims and mandatory state budget cuts.

The department’s 53 career centers across the state will stay open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to connect workers to employers and vice versa. Staff will rotate to keep the centers open five days a week, working four-day schedules of 10 hours per day. The new hours began Monday.

The number of unemployment claims filed in August jumped 72 percent over the year prior, as the state unemployment rate reached 6.3 percent, the highest rate in 15 years. About 310,000 Georgians are out of work, according to the department.

At the same time, the department must reduce its budget by 6 percent to help close a roughly $1.8 billion gap in the state budget.

“Our career centers are overflowing, being maxed-out with job seekers coming in. The only option is to increase hours,” Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said.

The department is under a hiring freeze.

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