Glynn County has been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to an announcement Thursday by Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

Glynn County ranks No. 5 in the state with an unemployment rate of 17.0 percent.

Whitfield County leads the state with a 20.6 unemployment rate, followed by Murray County at 20.1 percent, Clay County at 18.1 percent, and Chattooga County at 17.1 percent.

While those counties are impacted the most by the pandemic, they’re not alone. Georgia unemployment rates are setting unprecedented records in all categories because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are seeing all-time high unemployment rates across a majority of the state,” Butler said. “We are continuing to work with employers on effective strategies to get Georgians back to work in both a safe and economically efficient way.”

The good news — if there is such a thing — is the number of initial claims declined last week for the first time since the week ending March 21.

An estimated 2.1 million people filed initial unemployment claims nationwide last week, down 323,000 in the previous week.

As of May 26, the Georgia Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Balance had a balance of more than $1.6 billion, down $890 million, or 35 percent, from the more than $2.5 billion in the account on March 24.

The record number of claims has compelled state officials to increase safeguards against unemployment fraud to prevent the payment of unauthorized benefits.

“We are being challenged to pay millions of Georgians in unemployment benefits as quickly as possible while also being expected to verify eligibility,” Butler said. “We are relying on our partnerships with state agencies to assist us in meeting this demand accurately and expeditiously.”

All labor department career centers remain closed to the public, but online services are available and staff continues to answer phones, return emails and help applicants.

More than 101,000 jobs are listed on the labor department website employgeorgia.com.

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