Federal unemployment supplement to end in Tennessee in July

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Posted at 2:51 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 23:50:15-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — All federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs will end in Tennessee in July.

Governor Bill Lee made the announcement Tuesday afternoon saying in a press release, “We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state. Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

Tennessee will join several other Southern states refusing the $300 weekly unemployment payments.

Mona Lisa McGhee says she applied for unemployment benefits back in January.

McGhee is 70-years-old and semi-retired -- working temp jobs before the pandemic to make ends meet.
And no word yet when she'll see a dime in benefits.

"I still haven't heard anything so I'm still waiting."

McGhee contacted Newschannel 5 back in April and with our help she got in touch with a representative for benefits.

"Early in the process It said i would be eligible till September 4 and I was literally listening to the 4 o'clock news and Governor Lee announced he's cutting it off effective July 3 so what does that mean," said McGhee said.

Governor Bill Lee announced today Tennessee will join several other Southern states refusing the $300 weekly federal unemployment payments.

"We have a quarter million jobs in this state that are unfilled. And we do have employers all across the state who desperately need workers," said Lee, "We know that people want to work, and we want to make that pathway for them. We're working on a number of initiatives through our Department of Labor and Workforce, but we analyze the data and we think this is the right move for the state."

However, the move isn't sitting well with some state Democrats.

"I think it’s ridiculous number one, I think it’s very irresponsible, I think it’s short sighted, I can go on and on," said Representative Vincent Dixie.

Dixie who chairs the House Democrat Caucus says this is bad leadership by the Governor.

"People still need the ability to put food on the table and pay bills, and this is going to give them a head up and not a hand out," Dixie said.

McGhee should still be eligible but she says she's not sure if she'll ever get what she was promised.

"It’s been very concerning that information keeps changing, it’s not always clear in the website what's going on."

Federal pandemic unemployment programs set to end on July 3 include the following:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides for an additional $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits for those who would not usually qualify, such as the self-employed, gig workers and part-time workers
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides for an extension of benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted
  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), which provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with mixed earnings

Unemployment claimants in Tennessee have been required to complete three weekly job searches in order to remain eligible for benefits since Oct. 4, 2020. Any weeks filed before July 3 that are eligible under federal program requirements will continue to be processed.

A spokesperson with the Department of Labor and Workforce says The Department continues to receive an unprecedented number of new unemployment claims, still nearly four times pre-pandemic levels each week.

Along with the increased demand, comes an increase in potential fraud, so the Department must thoroughly review each claim, which adds time to the determination process.

Each claim submitted will be worked to determine if the claimant is eligible for either state of federal unemployment programs. If a claim is approved, the claimant will receive retro active payments for all qualified certifications.

If you or someone you know is searching for a job, resources can be found on the Tennessee Virtual American Job Center, which allows Tennesseans to research different programs that can help remove barriers to employment so they can more easily reenter Tennessee’s workforce.

State officials encouraged claimants to search for work through the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce jobs site, which currently has over 250,000 active job postings of all skill levels.

Also more resources can be found below: