GA lawmakers call for investigation into state Department of Labor over unemployment delays

ATLANTA — Georgia’s two U.S. senators want to know why so many are having trouble getting unemployment benefits.

They’re asking the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the Georgia Department of Labor.

Congress has budgeted more than $60 million this year to help Georgia process the tidal wave of unemployment applications and members of Congress say the continued delays are unacceptable.

In a letter from Georgia’s Democratic congressional delegation, spearheaded by Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, it asks for a federal investigation into Georgia’s unemployment system.

The letter to the labor inspector general reads “the breakdowns in the system are so egregious that we are requesting that your office perform an audit.”

“We are just deluged with people who are having a lot of problems and who desperately need help and I think we all have just gotten very frustrated with the lack response we’re getting from the Department of Labor,” Bourdeaux said.


Steve Carr was laid off from his job as a structural design engineer in December. He told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray that he still hasn’t received a dime of unemployment.

“It’s getting to the point where there’s nothing,” Carr said. “I had to cash in two of my previous employers’ retirement that I had built up just to get us over the hump and keep off the streets so to speak.”

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said he’s surprised by the letter because he just met with Bourdeaux’s office about their concerns.

“If you meet with somebody on a Monday, talking about you want to have a partnership, then you throw them under the bus 48 hours later, you’re really not looking to work together,” Butler said.

Butler blames Congress for the delays. He said the state labor department was ordered to build new programs on the fly.

“A lot of these things they keep passing, there was not a way to actually implement them because they didn’t exist,” Butler said.

“At this point, I would hope that he would have gotten sea legs here and have gotten this situation under control but clearly that is still not happening,” Bourdeaux said.

Butler said the federal Department of Labor is actually already doing much of what the members of Congress are asking for.

Georgia was randomly selected for a federal audit of its own unemployment program that is underway now.