Unemployment benefit issues remain for many Tennesseans

Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Being out of work and unable to get unemployment benefits continue to remain an issue for many Tennesseans.

The numbers for the state remain at levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

More than 600,000 Tennesseans have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 business shut down in mid-March. This includes 21,417 new jobless claims filed for the week ending June 6.

“It’s getting tight, it’s getting really tight at this point,” says Rutherford County Business Consultant Terressa Rucker, “Because I am going to have to pick and choose what I pay.”

Her story is like so many others heard in phone calls, text messages, and emails over the past few months from people suddenly finding themselves without a job.

Rucker says she received some unemployment benefits after being furloughed for one week in both May and April, but since May 21, she’s faced an indefinite layoff with issues getting through to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development which handles state jobless claims.

“I did the calls, I did both numbers,” said Rucker, “First time it just stayed on (hold) for just 30-45 minutes and the call was disconnected, so you go through that rigmarole, now lately you just leave a message.”

With her husband laid off from his automotive industry job, Rucker faces a double dose of job loss, but she’s thinking of others unemployed as well.

“How about if you were by yourself and you had kids to feed and you are not getting anything?” she wondered.

Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans are getting unemployment benefits, but people like Rucker are waiting for them.

Over the course of the last few months, the Department of Labor says it has trained hundreds of workers to take care and handle the historic number of unemployment claims.

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