Tennessee unemployment claims spike as jobs are lost due to COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 10:19 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 12:34:22-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Unemployment claims in Tennessee have spiked, as many are out of work due COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release sent by the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment claims reached a high of 39,096 for the week ending March 21.

By comparison, that is an increase of 36,394 from the prior week, as unemployment claims only reached 2,702 for the week ending March 14.

The chart below shows Tennessee unemployment claims by month, illustrating a sharp increase in March compared to January and February.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) says they are processing the claims as quickly as possible to determine eligibility and distribute the benefit payments.

TDLWD has also added new resources to help process this influx of claims. They say this includes training 200 department employees to be able to shift their job tasks to unemployment. It's estimated that nearly one-third of TDLWD employees will work to process claims, as well as provide customer service. Other methods to increase workforce are being explored.

The maximum weekly unemployment benefit in Tennessee is $275 before federal tax deductions. This benefit can be received through a debit card or direct deposit.

Tennessee's typical one-week waiting period to receive benefits has been temporarily suspended per Governor Lee's Executive Order 15.

The Department of Labor's press release covers unemployment throughout the United States, and shows a total of 3,283,000 unemployment claims in the country for the week ending March 21. The state will release the latest new unemployment claims data each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. starting April 2.