Showing posts with label unemployed workers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unemployed workers. Show all posts

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Georgia unemployment claims leveling off after benefit cutback effects fade

 When Georgia chose to end its involvement in the additional $300/week unemployment benefits being provided by the Federal government, Governor Kemp stated as its reasoning: 

“We've got to get more people in the work force," Kemp said on America's Newsroom. "We have a record number of jobs in Georgia. Georgia is open for business!” (WTGS

As a result of the state’s decision, effective June 26, 2021, Georgia’s unemployment benefits reverted back to its usual unemployment rules with unemployment benefits ranging from a minimum weekly benefit of $55 and the maximum of $365 based on the amount of wages earned in the base period for a maximum period of 20 weeks (Georgia DOL website). 

With several weeks of information on the state’s unemployment insurance claims now available, we can draw some tentative conclusions about the effect of that decision on the number of people in Georgia requesting unemployment assistance. 

Georgia initial claims 

A review of Initial unemployment claims in Georgia show a pattern of decline over a two-week period from 19,761 reflecting the week ending June 26, down to 12,605 for the week ended July 10. From that point, the number of initial claims has remained steady at approximately 12,000 each week for following two weeks, reflecting the weeks ending July 17 and July 24. 

Between the weeks ending June 26 and July 24, the weeks since the change in unemployment benefits, Georgia has seen a 7,095 decline in initial claims; a drop of 36 percent. 

An initial claim is a claim filed by an unemployed individual after a separation from an employer. The claimant requests a determination of basic eligibility for the UI program. When an initial claim is filed with a state, certain programmatic activities take place and these result in activity counts including the count of initial claims. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the count of U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance is a leading economic indicator because it is an indication of emerging labor market conditions in the country. 

North Carolina initial claims 

While Georgia declined to continue providing Federally-funded unemployment benefits to its citizens, North Carolina has chosen to maintain the $300/week Federal payment in addition to the state’s $350/week maximum benefit. 

For the same time period, reflecting weeks ending June 26 to July 24, North Carolina saw a slight increase in the number of initial unemployment claims, from 4,879 in the week ending June 26 to 5,118 in the week ending July 31, a nearly 5 percent increase.

 North Carolina’s governor chose to veto a bill that would have ended the enhanced Federal benefit before its expiration date in early September. 

“Unemployment is declining with more people getting vaccinated and into the workforce as North Carolina has strengthened work search requirements for those receiving benefits. The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country. Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent. I support strong efforts to make more quality childcare available and to provide businesses with funds for hiring bonuses and the bill falls short on both of these,” Gov. Cooper said. (WBTV

Continuing claims 

Both Georgia and North Carolina have seen a steady decrease in continued unemployment claims since early July. Georgia did see a 23 percent jump between the weeks ending June 19 and June 26, but since then continued claims have declined by 51 percent. Since the end of May, continued claims in Georgia have dropped by 40,855 (-31 percent). 

In North Carolina, there was no spike between June 19 and June 26. Since the end of May, continued claims in North Carolina have dropped by 9,648 (-21 percent). 

A person who has already filed an initial claim and who has experienced a week of unemployment then files a continued claim to claim benefits for that week of unemployment. On a weekly basis, continued claims are also referred to as insured unemployment, as continued claims reflect a good approximation of the current number of insured unemployed workers filing for UI benefits. 

The U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration argues that a count of U.S. continued weeks claimed is also a good indicator of labor market conditions. While continued claims are not a leading indicator (they roughly coincide with economic cycles at their peaks and lag at cycle troughs), they provide confirming evidence of the direction of the U.S. economy. 


While a longer pattern of weeks will provide a more complete picture, some preliminary judgments are possible. 

Initial unemployment claims in Georgia, which were already showing weekly declines before the week ending June 26, continued dropping until the week ending July 10. Those drops continued but accelerated after the week ending June 26 for a couple of weeks before leveling off at a point lower than during the 2020 Covid year but higher than in the pre-Covid summers of 2018 and 2019. 

It is impossible to say whether the weekly decline might have occurred even if the $300 payments had continued in Georgia, but the most recent weeks indicate that any incentive brought about by the $300 loss in benefits at the end of June appears to have been outweighed by other factors such as the number of job opportunities available that will utilize workers’ past experiences, employees’ reluctance to return to work in conditions that might expose them to Covid-19 and its variants, inability to find work at suitable pay levels, as well as other issues such as family responsibilities that require at-home attendance of relatives and children. 

Certainly the loss of $300/week weighed on unemployed workers personal budgets, whether it produced a dramatic longer-term rise in the availability of labor remains problematic.

Georgia Initial Claims Data 

Number of initial claims reflecting the week ending: 

5/22/2021    24,622

5/29/2021    22,240

6/05/2021    22,524

6/12/2021    20,698

6/19/2021    20.749

6/26/2021    19,761

7/03/2021    14,475

7/10/2021    12,605

7/17/2021    11,985

7/24/2021    12,666

 Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration