FILE - Tennessee state flag

The Tennessee state flag flies.

(The Center Square) – Nearly 9,400 new unemployment claims were filed in Tennessee last week; the highest weekly total since mid-April.

Only nine states had more new unemployment claims than Tennessee last week. The 9,376 new claims last week represented a 42% increase from the previous week's 6,596 new claims.

The jump in new claims came after the state stopped its participation in the federal supplemental pandemic relief unemployment program, which gives those on unemployment an additional $300 weekly through the first week of September. The final two weeks of June were the lowest claims totals since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for June was 4.9%, one-tenth of a percentage point below May's rate. The national unemployment rate was at 5.9%. For the past six months, the state has been at a rate of 5.1% or lower. The state's unemployment rate a year ago was 9.3%.

“Tennessee employers helped thousands of individuals return to the workforce in June,” a news release from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said. “Total nonfarm employment increased by 22,100 jobs across the state. The largest number of new hires occurred in the local government sector. The accommodation/food services and administrative/support/waste services sectors accounted for the next highest number of hires.

“Between June 2020 and June 2021, employers added 153,400 Tennesseans to their payrolls.”

Tennessee’s Democratic Party leaders continued to highlight the state leaving the federal pandemic relief program Wednesday during a news conference related to the firing of the state's top vaccine official.

It also was a topic raised when Gov. Bill Lee launched the “Tennessee on Me” initiative to incentivize travelers to book at least a two-night stay at a hotel in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis or Knoxville to earn a $250 flight voucher.

“Tennessee companies laid off more than 9,300 people last week – the highest mark in three months and more than triple the pre-pandemic average,” Tennessee Senate Democrats tweeted Thursday. “Despite the claims of politicians, our economy is not back to normal and cuts to aid meant for workers is hurting our families.”