Business Briefs: Georgia cuts rates for unemployment insurance as jobless duration sinks to five-week average

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With the unemployment rate the lowest in more than a half century, Georgia employers will pay $45 million less in unemployment insurance premiums next year.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the Peach State has one of the shortest average durations of unemployment claims in the country at just eight weeks - just over half the U.S. rate of 15 weeks. With more workers on the payroll contributing to Georgia's unemployment insurance fund and fewer jobless persons getting benefits than in the past, Butler said the fund needs less tax money.

"Reducing taxes is the right thing to do for hardworking Georgians, in this case Georgia's businesses," he said.

Tax breaks for companies will depend on the number of employees and frequency of claims filed, Butler said.

Along with businesses receiving a tax cut, Georgia increased the maximum for weekly benefits from $330 a week to $365 a week, effective July 2019.

Gas prices drop 3.7 cents a gallon

Chattanooga gas prices fell 3.7 cents per gallon last week, cutting the price of regular fuel to $2.17 a gallon, or 38 cents a gallon below the U.S. average, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of stations released Monday.

Gas prices in Chattanooga are 6 cents per gallon lower than a month ago but still up 26.3 cents per gallon from the same time a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Chattanooga Monday was priced at $2.03 per gallon while the most expensive was $2.49 per gallon.

"Gasoline prices have now slid to their lowest level since March thanks to rising U.S. gasoline inventories and sluggish demand, certainly bringing some Christmas cheer to motorists," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "The jump in gasoline inventories has been so large it has offset oil prices which touched $60 per barrel last week, as well as the U.S. and China suggesting they've reached a trade deal."

Charter opens 3 Spectrum stores

Charter Communications, Inc. has opened three remodeled Spectrum stores in Tennessee.

The new stores in Tullahoma, Farragut and Sevierville, Tenn. allow customers to find out about and test out features of Spectrum Mobile and Spectrum Internet services, which Charter claims can save many consumers up to 40% compared to their rivals.

"Our new Spectrum stores provide an updated design and enhancements for showcasing innovation across the full suite of Spectrum services," said Pattie Eliason, group vice president for Spectrum stores. "Our representatives will show customers the latest advances in technology - including our exciting new Spectrum Mobile options - help them become familiar with using it and put together just the right package of Spectrum services for their home and family."