FILE - Jeff McCord

Tennessee Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Jeff McCord

(The Center Square) – Because of progress made lowering Tennessee’s unemployment rate, 3,000 Tennesseans receiving unemployment payments through the federal Extended Benefits program no longer will receive those funds beginning Nov. 7.

The U.S. Department of Labor administers the Extended Benefits program based on each state’s unemployment metrics. Tennessee crossed the threshold of economic recovery earlier this month, triggering the end of the program, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development (TDLWD) announced Friday.

Tennessee saw only 7,770 new unemployment claims last week – fewer than any week since the spike in March caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. New and continuing unemployment claims continue to fall.

The Extended Benefits program was available to claimants who exhausted benefits through Tennessee’s unemployment program and also exhausted the additional 13 weeks of benefits available through the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which was funded by the Coronavirus Aide, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“There hasn't, at the federal level after the CARES Act, been any movement on additional unemployment insurance benefits,” TDLWD Commissioner Jeff McCord said in a recent news conference. “For the time being, and naturally over time, the best strategy is to return to work.”

Claimants receiving the Extended Benefits program payment must complete certifications to receive final payments for the weeks ending Oct. 31 and Nov. 7. Claimants may reapply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to determine eligibility.

Benefits under another federal unemployment program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), also are running out for some claimants. Funded with CARES Act money, PUA benefits are available to claimants for a maximum of 39 weeks, with all benefits expiring Dec. 26. Claimants who have received PUA benefits since the beginning of the program now are running up on the end of the 39-week period.

More than a quarter million jobs are listed on Jobs4TN.gov, and specialists at American Job Centers across the state are available at no cost to assist with searches for work.

“There are tens of thousands of jobs. We have employers across the state who are looking for people looking to hire,” McCord said.

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.