By Jill Penley
County-level July unemployment rates released by the Tennessee Department of Labor last week show 75 percent of Tennessee counties improving with unemployment rate decreases from June to July in 72 of the state’s 95 counties. Financial analysts suggest this may be a glimmer of progress toward economic recovery.
Unemployment rates in most Tennessee’s counties skyrocketed in April, with many counties’ rates surpassing unemployment rates during the 2008 financial crash. But Tennessee’s overall unemployment rate came in at an estimated 9.5% in July, slightly lower than June’s revised rate of 9.6%.
New unemployment claims announced Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development are the second-lowest since the pandemic shut down parts of the economy in March. While new claims are trending down, the hospitality industry struggles and faces a long road to recovery. Pickett County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate in July at 6.3 percent, while Shelby County, which includes Memphis, had the highest at 14.4 percent.More than 806,000 new unemployment claims have been filed in Tennessee since mid-March, according to data released Thursday morning by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce (TDLW).
There is another piece of good news when it comes to unemployment. Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Jeff McCord recently announced the state will provide an additional $300 a week in federal assistance to people who are unemployed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic; however, the unemployment assistance is not long term and is expected to only last for three weeks — unless extended.
According to McCord, the $300 benefit will be added to the current maximum state payout of $275. Payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1, the department said. Claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action. The state will automatically add the lost wages benefit to their weekly payment.