Will Work for Money: Initial Unemployment Claims Skyrocket

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Filing for unemployment can be a daunting process, but nearly 100,000 Georgians did it for the first time last month.

Initial unemployment claims in Columbus are up 135% from this time last year.

"I was employed there for six years," Alisha Jones said as she waited outside the Georgia Department of Labor office Thursday.

On February 27th, Jones lost her job at Doctor's Laboratory as a phlebotomist.

Now, more than a month later, she's still waiting for unemployment assistance...she's one of more than 1400 Columbus residents who applied for unemployment, for the first time, last month.

"It's been a struggle, I have four kids and I'm just looking for work now," Jones said.

But Jones is not alone.

From March of 2008 to March of 2009, initial claims for unemployment surpassed the state average, as more than 800 citizens in Columbus sought assistance.

"We went from around 608 last year to a little over 1400 claims this year filed in March," Diane Jenkins with the local Georgia Department of Labor office said.

But why did so many more people file for unemployment in March?

Jenkins says there are two reasons.

The first reason might be that people lost their jobs in the fall and winter and have now spent their severance packages.

The second might come with those who were recently laid off.

"March just happened to be one of those months where it was a little larger, we've had some layoffs in Columbus, we've had some plants that have been shut down and close shifts and I'm sure that has also affected it," Jenkins said.