ATLANTA — First-time unemployment claims in Georgia fell significantly last week, continuing a downward trend that has helped the state Department of Labor catch up with a backlog of claims.

Initial claims declined by 13,426 during the week to 23,827.

After 34 weeks of paying out unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Georgia, the labor department has processed all of the more than 4 million state unemployment applications in the pipeline.

“Any delays [unemployed Georgians] are currently having regarding claims are not related to processing,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said Thursday. “We are processing claims at pre-COVID rates.”

Butler said eligibility determination, which takes place after a claim is processed, is the most frequent cause for a claimant to experience an extended wait.

“The claims that are taking awhile are the ones where there is a disagreement about the separation reason between the employer and the employee,” Butler said.

Jobless Georgians have received more than $15.7 billion in unemployment benefits since mid-March, more than the past 28 years combined. Last week, the labor department paid out more than $174 million in benefits.

The job sector accounting for the most initial unemployment claims last week was accommodation and food services with 4,768 claims. The administrative and support services sector was next with 2,506 claims, followed by manufacturing with 2,446.

More than 162,000 jobs are listed online at EmployGeorgia for Georgians to access, more than double the job listings back in April. The labor department offers online resources for finding careers, building a resume and assisting with other reemployment needs.

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