NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After more than two months of decrease, the weekly number of Tennesseans filing for unemployment benefits crept back up again last week.
21,155 Tennesseans filed for unemployment benefits during the week that ended June 20. That’s up by more than 1,200 from the previous week ending June 13 when 19,925 people filed.
Everyone from Governor Bill Lee to all state lawmakers have heard from some of the 643,799 people in Tennessee who have filed for unemployment claims since the mid-March COVID-19 business shutdown.
It left the state labor department overwhelmed in suddenly dealing with claims and at least tens of thousands of Tennesseans waiting on unemployment benefits sometimes for months.
The department says it has retrained or hired hundreds of new workers to process the claims.
“We in essence became caseworkers to qualify them for the process, to get their access to the system and get their unemployment checks,” said House Democrat Leader Karen Camper during a video conference Wednesday.
Some lawmakers say they are still getting calls from constituents who filed for unemployment benefits in March but have not received any checks.
A spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workplace said “there are approximately 29,000 claims pending a determination. Ten thousand of those claims are less than seven days old, with more than 8,000 claims less than 21 days old.”
While some furloughed Tennesseans are back to work, there’s also news that signals more layoffs to come. General Motors said Wednesday it will cut 525 jobs at its Spring Hill, Tennessee plant.
The loss of production jobs means nearby auto suppliers will eventually be affected as well. That means there may be more upticks for the weekly Tennessee unemployment numbers in the coming months.