Unemployment benefits running out for Tenn.'s jobless - WKRN News 2

Unemployment benefits running out for Tenn.'s jobless


A staggering number of people are coming to grips with the reality their last unemployment checks may be just weeks away.

Currently, 79 weeks is the maximum timeframe to collect unemployment in Tennessee. 

It's the longest unemployment period in state history, but for many of the jobless, those benefits are running out.

"It's a concern. It's a great concern to me," said Deborah Carpenter, who has been collecting unemployment since July.

In August, 500 Tennesseans ran out of unemployment benefits.

In the upcoming months, that number is only going to jump, to 1,500 in September, 4,000 in October, and by December, 23,000 people will no longer be getting their unemployment benefits.

Carpenter is visiting the career center to look for full-time work.

She said, "I've worked ever since I came out of college, and now to be the age I am, 50 plus, which is not that great to be looking for a job."

Don Ingram, with the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, says the average person is drawing around 26 weeks of unemployment.

"Before this downturn in the economy our average duration was about 14 weeks, so that's a significant longer period that people are drawing now," Ingram said.

Right now, the state is paying out around $20 million a week in unemployment benefits.

Carpenter says her unemployment benefits are set to run out in late November, and it's possible she may still be out of work when that happens.

She said, "It's a hard pill to swallow when you've been productive all your life."

According to the labor department, there were around 7,400 unemployment claims in August.

Though that number is down from nearly 18,000 claims back in January, it's still 28% over last year.

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