The Georgia Department of Labor announced positive and negative news in its latest unemployment report.
More than 66,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance were filed in September, a 17.6 percent increase from last year but a decrease of more than 3,250 from August.
However, the average length of time jobless Georgia workers drew benefits increased to 14 weeks in September from 11.8 weeks a year ago.
The statewide number of jobless workers receiving benefits rose nearly 60 percent in the last year, to nearly 140,000 last month from just over 88,000 a year ago.
Locally, 2,340 workers made initial claims for benefits in September, 643 more than a year ago for a nearly 38 percent increase. Athens reported the most dramatic year-over-year shift, with a 75.4 percent increase in initial claims to over 1,200 in September.
While the pace of new layoffs continued to moderate in September, the average length of time that jobless Georgians are receiving unemployment insurance benefits is now longer than its been since March 1976, said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.
This is a strong reminder that we must increase our efforts to help unemployed Georgians find new jobs or careers. I believe that federal, state, and local governments must invest greater public sector resources in order to stimulate job creation by small businesses.