NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - “I got notice on the 20th of March that I was being temporarily laid off. I filed--two days later on the 22nd," Hendersonville resident Michael Collins said. 

After waiting eight weeks for his unemployment claim, Michael Collins finally got his wish. 

“It  sat in that potential status or pending status up until two days ago,” Collins said. 

He also got back pay. A hassle he feels could've been handled better. 

“I can’t count the number of emails I sent through the messaging system in the portal. The support tickets through the portal," Collins said. 

Since the pandemic, the Department of Labor has seen record breaking numbers. 

A chart the Department of Labor released this afternoon  shows April 2020's records at 14.7% , the highest unemployment rate in Tennessee's history. It surpasses the 12.9% rate from January 1983.  

“For the week ending March 14-May 9th, over all--around a half a million claims, initial claims came in," Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Jeff McCord said. 

 

Last week the State says they paid more 319,000 claims. Commissioner McCord says they're making progress in reducing the amount of pending claims in their system. 

"That number has now gone from 50,000 to 22,000. Most of those claims are in the April to March time frame--but there are a small percentage that are still in that March time frame, but we know that there are people behind those percentages," Commissioner McCord said. 

He also says their department plans on beefing up their expertise to handle the volume. 

"We find that we not only have a people issue...we have a expertise issue. And so with that expertise issue we are increasing our adjudicator from about 45 to 70. That are in training right now," McCord said. 

Commissioner McCord added that they're increasing their claim agents, going from 118 to 145 next week.

Another thing they're doing next week is turning on their voicemail systems so they can understand exactly what issues people are having and then respond to them as quickly as possible.

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