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- Georgia was among the first states to start reopening its economy at the end of April.
- In the three weeks since the state has eased back into normal life, unemployment has stayed high.
- According to Labor Department statistics, 40.3% of Georgia’s workforce has applied for unemployment assistance since the pandemic began.
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Unemployment in Georgia has continued to climb, despite its controversial decision to push ahead with reopening, according to a new Politico report.
The outlet analyzed Labor Department data which shows that two-fifths of Georgia workers have filed unemployment claims, the highest proportion in the US.
More than 40% have filed for unemployment insurance payments since the pandemic began to take hold in mid-March, Politico said.
While its reopening has allowed some people to go back to work, there have also been several waves of new unemployment applications which came after the restrictions began to lift.
Georgia’s restrictions began to lift on April 24, with its official stay-at-home order expiring on April 30.
However, according to Politico’s figures the state had 243,000 jobless claims two weeks ago, and another 177,000 last week.
The new job losses have been clustered in the retail, social assistance, and health care industries.
In total, more than two million Georgia workers have filed for unemployment in the last nine weeks, compared to 39 million in the US as a whole.
Georgia ended its stay-at-home order on April 24, and began reopening businesses in the state, starting with gyms, bowling alleys, and personal care businesses.
The only businesses still shut there are bars, nightclubs, theaters, live music venues, and amusement parks, which will remain closed for the rest of May.
Many worried that the early reopening would cause a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the state, but so far the results are unclear. There has also been a debate on how to interpret the data.
Georgia’s Department of Public Health has published data showing what appears to be a significant decline in new cases and deaths, but other experts say experts say the information is both preliminary and incomplete.
An independent analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper suggested that the outbreak appears to be in a plateau – not a decline.
With additional reporting from Michelle Mark.