Photo: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
Photo Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
Published July 2, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Saturday marks the end of federal unemployment benefits for thousands of currently unemployed Tennesseans. The state will opt out of the federal government’s additional $300 per week and other programs that provide extra benefits beyond those generally covered by the state’s unemployment insurance program.
Instead, the Tennessee Unemployment Compensation program will be the sole provision for those in the state without jobs. The program pays a maximum of $275 per week.
Governor Lee announced the planned switch in May, stating that the state would no longer be accepting any additional funding from the federal unemployment program, which was put into place to provide assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee stated. “Families, businesses, and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”
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The federal program provided benefits to some individuals in Tennessee who would not have qualified for them through the state program, helping the self-employed, gig workers, and others to survive the economic upheaval brought about by the pandemic and the associated government response.
Any unemployed Tennessee resident who has a pending claim filed prior to July 3 will still receive retroactive benefits if they are shown to have been qualified.
Those who claim benefits are required to provide proof of three weekly job searches to receive assistance. Those receiving benefits must also accept any “suitable work offers” and could potentially lose that assistance or be forced to repay assistance if they refuse a “suitable” offer.
1,207,225 Tennessee residents filed new unemployment claims since March 2020. The unemployment rate in Tennessee for the month of May was at 5%.
The state does offer a number of programs to help people find work.
Individuals can view over 250,000 jobs at www.Jobs4TN.gov. People can also visit one of more than 80 locations of American Job Centers in the state. Their staff specializes in helping people with the job search process and with finding the necessary training programs for those looking to change careers.
For those who have obstacles such as lack of transportation or childcare, the Tennessee Virtual American Job Center (www.TNVirtualAJC.com) offers information on a number of assistance programs.
The state does not plan to leave needy families high and dry, however.
In conjunction with these changes, Governor Bill Lee recently announced a plan to revamp the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF).
Newly passed legislation will help provide incentives to families who work to become self-sufficient, invest TANF reserve funds, protect against fraud and abuse, and ensure that the state is making use of all available funding.
“The real goal is to work more effectively for the families in this state who need these funds in order to help them in their access to opportunity,” said Governor Lee. “I’m particularly proud that we’re investing in those who are pursuing educational opportunities.”
Speaker Cameron Sexton noted the bipartisan effort to provide ways for people to improve their lives.
“In Tennessee we do work together for the common cause to help people find that opportunity and that hope to change their lives, to build a career and to get to a place that they never thought they could achieve.”
About the Author:
Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative
Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen and the Crossville Chronicle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com