Georgia is losing some unemployment benefits - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia is losing some unemployment benefits

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Georgia's unemployment rate is down.

It dropped to 8.5 per cent in November, down nearly a full point in a year.

That's certainly good news for Georgia, but it's not good news for long-term unemployed Georgians.

Some of them are about to lose their unemployment benefits.

Some of them were looking for work Thursday.

They were there in their dozens at the Georgia Department of Labor's Career Center on Albany's south side.  One of them is Lawrence Williams.  For him the job search has been a long one.  How long?  Since the end of 2010.

He's applied for a number of positions since being laid off.  But so far: "I haven't been getting any calls or anything."

While his unemployment benefits ran out a while ago, thousands of Georgians are about to share his fate.

"When Tier 4 goes away, the maximum number of weeks will be 27 weeks," said Brenda Brown, the Director of Unemployment Insurance for the Georgia Department of Labor.

Workers who were laid off after July 1st of this year could be eligible for up to 34 weeks of federal benefits after their state benefits expire, given out in a tiered system, with Tier 4 benefits taking up the last seven weeks.

The extra benefits were granted by Congress during the worst of the recession, but now those benefits are going away.

The reason?  A lower unemployment rate.

Brenda Brown said, "in September our rate was actually 9.0, in October it was 8.7 and in November it was 8.5 (per cent)".

While the number of weeks for benefits is down, with unemployment down as well the crowds at this job center are up in the past few weeks.

Department of Labor officials have an idea why.

Brown said, "the unemployment rate is getting better and that means that some people are finding jobs."

As more people see the better job numbers, some of them are coming back in to seek work. Williams has always been here, and he seems hopeful - but cautious - that his search will soon be over.

"I feel optimistic that I'll find a job, but the way things are looking now it's pretty scarce," he said.

For him the ideal solution would be to find work so that he wouldn't need benefits at all. Something that everyone hopes will happen soon.

Department of Labor services are available to all Georgians.

To see how they can help you search for a job, you can click here.

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