FILE - Georgia Unemployment

(The Center Square) – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is offering more help to Georgians who have tapped out all of their state unemployment benefits amid the economic downturn from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GDOL launched the U.S.Department of Labor’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which allows unemployed residents to receive benefits for an additional 13 weeks.

“Many people who applied for [unemployment insurance] in the first weeks of our COVID-19, economic shutdown are rapidly approaching the end of their initial cycle of UI benefits,” GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement Thursday. “In a crisis, such as COVID-19, programs like PEUC are necessary to ensure all claimants are taken care of while continuing to get Georgians back to work.”

PEUC is available to Georgians whose benefit year (the one year that workers can redeem unemployment insurance) ends after July 2019 and have not received additional payments through other state and federal programs.

Funding for the program is provided to the state through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The first payable end week for PEUC is April 4, and the final payable end week is December 26.

GDOL has paid out $5.4 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits over the past 12 weeks, officials said Thursday.

Since March 21, the agency has paid $1.4 million in state unemployment benefits. As of June 9, the state’s employment trust fund balance was $1.4 billion, a 42 percent decrease from March 24, when it was $2.5 billion.

However, claims have started to decrease.

Over the past week, the agency has paid $156 million in state unemployment benefits, which was $1.4 million less than the previous week.

“As we see the number of initial claims continue to decrease each week, my staff remains vigilant on processing large volumes of claims and works to implement further advancements with programs like PEUC,” Butler said. “We can expect additional extensions of benefits in the future based on our unemployment numbers, although our mission is to get Georgians back in the workplace.”

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for four years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.