Tennessee’s weekly jobs report shows that while continuing unemployment claims dropped for the third week in a row, new unemployment claims jumped slightly.

According to the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, during the week of June 26 there were 4,970 unemployment claims, a spike of 254 claims statewide from the previous week. But overall, unemployment claims dropped from 50,671 to 49,909, a drop of 762.

Star News Education Foundation Journalism ProjectContinuing unemployment numbers peaked at 321,571 in May of 2020, after Tennessee entered its COVID-19 lockdown. Those numbers have hovered around 50,000 since mid-November.

In a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, President Joe Biden extended federal unemployment benefits earlier this year, which provided an extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits.

Gov. Bill Lee (R) joined a wave of Republican governors in opting out of that program in mid-May, with federal unemployment benefits ceasing effective July 3.

After that announcement, weekly unemployment claims dropped to below 7,000 for the first time since before the pandemic.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state. Families, businesses & our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment & move on from short-term, federal fixes,” Lee said at the time.

According to a nationwide analysis conducted by Jefferies LLC, “from the middle of May, when many governors announced an end to the benefits, through June 12, the number of workers receiving state unemployment benefits in those states fell by 13.8%.”

Many employers, particularly in the service industry, have struggled to hire since the United States emerged from the COVID-19 lockdowns early this spring.

With those enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government, many people were making more money without working than they would at a low-wage job.

“What we’re seeing across the states, with employment rising the most in states that are ending the bonus federal benefits early, is exactly as expected,” The Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Greszler said of the Jefferies LLC analysis.

“It’s not rocket science. If you guarantee people super-sized unemployment benefits for up to 18 months, you should expect high unemployment.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to dabroscareports@gmail.com.
Photo “Long line” by Gabriel White. CC BY-SA 2.0.