(The Center Square) – Initial unemployment claims in Tennessee dropped for the second consecutive week, data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor showed.
Initial unemployment claims in Tennessee for the week ending April 18 were 68,968, down 2,919 – or 4 percent – from the 71,887 initial claims filed the week ending April 11.
In the past five weeks, nearly 400,000 initial unemployment claims have been made in Tennessee as businesses have closed or reduced hours as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employees in Tennessee could be returning to work next week after Gov. Bill Lee said some businesses will be eligible to open as soon as Monday and a majority of businesses will be able to open May 1.
Lee has not revealed specifics surrounding this phased-in approach. Social distancing guidelines still will be in effect for all businesses.
Nationally, more than 4.4 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, UDSOL reported, down 810,000 from the week prior, when 5.25 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.
Over the past five weeks, 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits because of stay-at-home orders in response to the novel coronavirus.