As of Saturday, June 26, 2021, Georgia has ended its’ participation in the federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs enacted through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. As a result, the state has reinstated many of the eligibility requirements waived during the recent pandemic.
As of the end of last week, over 74,000 claimants are receiving benefits through the PUA program designed for self-employed, gig workers, and part-time workers who have been unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19. Almost 93,000 claimants were receiving extended UI benefits through the PEUC program. Payments for both of these programs have now ceased.
Over 56,000 claimants are currently receiving regular UI payments, but after this week will no longer receive the additional $300 FPUC weekly supplement. All eligible payments under any of these federal programs for week ending dates on or before June 26, 2021 will continue to be processed and issued to qualified individuals.
“We saw the number of claims filed this week drop by almost 2,000 and anticipate this number to continue to fall as Georgians return to the workforce,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Friday. “After sixty-six weeks of benefits during the pandemic and the release of over $22.5 billion, we look forward to refocusing our organization on reemployment and helping claimants find a career path that will provide the stability and support necessary to provide for their families.”
Starting June 27, 2021, claimants receiving regular state UI benefits will be required to be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work for each week benefit payments are requested. Individuals requesting unemployment benefits must register for employment services in their state of residence to avoid interruption, delay, or denial of benefits, if found to be eligible. Individuals who reside in the state of Georgia must register with EmployGeorgia, the state’s reemployment website, and include his/her social security number during registration. Individuals will be asked to create a resume or upload a searchable resume to the site and submit three work search contacts for each week payments are requested.
The previously adjusted earning disregard rule that allowed earnings up to $300 per week to be disregarded when calculating weekly benefits will be reduced to $150 per week. This means reported earnings more than $150 will be deducted dollar for dollar from the weekly entitlement amount.
“We will begin to charge employers again next week for unemployment benefits for those temporarily laid off or working fewer hours during the pandemic,” said Commissioner Butler. “Businesses are open and employers are looking for workers to fill positions, not laying off members of their team.”
Effective June 27, 2021, the relief for unemployment benefit charging will end regardless of the reason for unemployment. Unemployment benefits paid for weeks ending on or after June 27, 2021, will be charged to the most recent employer under the law section OCGA 34-8-43.
Employers will also revert to the Partial Claims Mandate (Rule 300-2-4.09) effective June 27, 2021. Employers will only be allowed to submit six (6) consecutive weeks of partial claims with no earnings. Individuals that are unemployed more than six (6) consecutive weeks will be considered to be separated and subsequent claims filed will not be processed or paid. In such cases, employers are encouraged to convert claims from partial claims to individual-filed claims to allow the individuals to request their own weekly benefits and report gross earnings if they work.
Employers are asked to report job refusals online for employees who refuse to report or return to work or an offer of work at dol.georgia.gov and select Report UI Fraud & Abuse.
On Friday, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced it had processed 4,918,465 regular unemployment insurance (UI) claims since March 21, 2020, more than the last 10 years prior to the pandemic combined (4.8 million).
As of today, over 221,000 jobs are listed on EmployGeorgia for Georgians to access. Employ Georgia uses artificial intelligence to match an individual’s skills to potential jobs. Claimants receive access to job listings, support to upload up to five searchable resumes, job search assistance, career counseling, skills testing, job fair information, job training services, and accessibility and special accommodations for people with disabilities and veterans transitioning back into the workplace. Video tutorials on how to register and utilize EmployGeorgia are available at employgeorgia.com.
The GDOL has paid over $22.5 billion in state and federal benefits in the past sixty-six weeks. Last week, the GDOL issued almost $161 million in benefits, which included regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits.
Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 20,698, down 1,826 over the week over the week. Initial claims are defined as any notice of unemployment filed to request a determination of entitlement to or eligibility of unemployment insurance compensation OR to begin a second or subsequent period of eligibility within a benefit year. Initial claims numbers are not a direct correlation to layoffs. Additionally, the agency currently has 154,823 active PUA claims.