Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler fired back at a Georgia House Democratic Caucus subcommittee Monday after they sent out press releases announcing that they had submitted a letter to Congress calling for an investigation of the Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) Unemployment Insurance (UI) payment processes.
“This ploy to condemn the Georgia Department of Labor is completely political in nature,” said Butler. “Georgia, like every state in the nation, has worked to process record-setting numbers of unemployment claims over the past six months while also building and implementing four separate programs conceived by Congress and the White House to address millions of individuals that have never been part of the UI program.
“Instead of constantly criticizing the work of the men and women of the Georgia Department of Labor, these legislators should be praising the work of these individuals who have been working diligently to issue over $15 billion in benefit payments at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. This agency was given the task of delivering almost 80 percent of all the financial relief that was presented in the Cares Act legislation and has done so successfully operating 7 days a week since the middle of March,” Butler added.
These legislators, members of the Democratic Subcommittee on COVID-19, said in their press release that they are calling on Congress to examine valid processed Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims in Georgia that have not been paid, including claim benefits provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Their letter claims that the GDOL has failed to comply with a federal statute that requires promptness in the payment of unemployment benefits to eligible claimants.
They also asked that the U.S. Department of Labor initiate an informal discussion with GDOL officials, conduct an evaluation of the state’s benefits payment processes and analyze the reasons for failing to pay eligible claims.
However, according to information released Monday, the Georgia Department of Labor has paid more than $15 billion in state and federal benefits since the beginning of the pandemic in March of this year. Last week, the GDOL issued $193 million in benefits, which include 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.
The report also stated that over the past 30 weeks, 3,880,931 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the last eight years combined (3.3 million). Of those, 2,562,322 were employer filed claims (66 percent), and 1,318,609 were individual claims.
GDOL also announced that jobs were up 20,200 in September to reach a total of 4,461,400. Among the job increase, the private sector saw a positive jump of 28,000 jobs.