Hundreds of thousands of jobless Tennesseans face second week without extended federal benefits


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Several hundred thousand unemployed Tennesseans now live on no more than $275 dollars a week, but might that soon increase?

They wonder if there might be state will help with replacing the 600-dollar weekly from federal unemployment benefits.

Holly Harper told News 2 that it would mean, “Everything. Paying bills. Being able to take care of my son. Being able to pay car insurance.” Her husband echoed whats at stake with restoring the federal $600-dollar unemployment benefit.

“Now we are gettin’ around two (hundred) something, so we are going to choose what we are going to pay,” said Trey Harper.

Tough decisions loom for Holly and Trey as they face a  second week without the extra 600-dollar weekly unemployment benefit.

“We are probably fixin to lose the insurance on the car because we can’t pay it–because we have to take care of our son,” added Trey. Holly lost jobs with a salon and the census because of the pandemic. Trey’s work as an auto paint and body specialist dried up as COVID-19 closed businesses.

“People like us need the help for everyday things,” said Holly. State help is not something Governor Bill Lee or other state Republican leaders have said they would consider in the legislative special session now  underway.

Bills about business protection from COVID-19 liability, more insurance reimbursement of tele-medicine health care providers and measures aimed at protesters on are being considered in the special session, but a top Democrat says unemployment help should be part of it.

“All it would take is the governor sending a message to this general assembly that he wants the legislature to look at it,” said Senator Jeff Yarbro.

President Trump proposed a new 400-dollar weekly benefit to help the unemployed, but that’s only if Washington negotiations don’t succeed.

Its leaves the Harpers with a message for both parties: “The Republicans and Democrats need to get their heads on right,” said Trey.

“And get their act together,” chimed in his wife Holly. While the president proposed as an executive order would be 75-percent of the 400-dollar benefit,states like Tennessee would have to find money to pay for the rest.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and for updates.

COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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