COVID-19 remains story of lives and livelihoods


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With nearly 400,000 Tennesseans filing for unemployment in the last five weeks, COVID-19 continues to be a dramatic story of lives and livelihoods.

Despite the numbers which are at a record state high for the time period, there is a ray of good news in the latest figures reported by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

There is a downward trend since the peak of 116,141 claimants for the week that ended April 4. 74,772 Tennesseans filed claims for the next week followed by 68,968 claimants for the latest reporting period that ended April 18.

The labor department has added or shifted hundreds of workers to process the claims, but there remain complaints.

“I am receiving calls every day from people getting their unemployment claims filed and processed,” says Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.

He issued a recommendation Thursday for Republican Governor Bill Lee to help streamline the claims process.

“The governor needs to waive the certification requirement for unemployment,” said Rep. Stewart. “It’s clogging up the computer system.”

Despite many waiting, the state labor department says many more are getting benefits.

The says that as of Wednesday, April 22, benefits of $236 million dollars have been distributed to 224,334 individuals. The labor department commissioner says by week’s end, 250,000 Tennesseans are expected to be receiving unemployment benefits.

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