NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The unemployment surge because of the pandemic made for a busy year at the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Spokesperson Chris Cannon said unemployment claim numbers are lower than they were months ago, but still there’s a lot of people who need assistance.

“The number of people collecting unemployment is going down, but the number of people who are in the workforce is going up, so that kind of shows people are leaving the unemployment rolls and going back to work across the state,” Cannon said.

Tennessee’s newest unemployment numbers show employers added nearly 25,000 jobs between September and October. Even with the creation of new jobs, the state’s unemployment rate inched upward for the first time in five months.

We know folks need to get back to work. We’re trying to help them get back to work, but we also know they need those unemployment benefits until they find that job,” Cannon said.

Many unemployment federal benefits are coming to an end next month.

“If a claimant has been on pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA), a part of the CARES federal program. If they’ve been on PUA since the beginning of the pandemic, say March 15, that program lasts for 39 weeks and those 39 weeks end December 12,” Cannon said.

It remains to be seen if the state and country will receive additional support in 2021.

“We are at the mercy of the federal government and if they give us new programs between now and then, we will implement them as quickly as possible,” Cannon said. “But as of right now, the federal programs that tens of thousands of Tennesseans are still taking benefits from. They will end within the next month and a half.”

The department is now trying to help people get back to work through their Re-Employ Tennessee Initiative. It offers services to help people get back to work. Everything from resume writing and interview skills to sharpening your job training.

“It may not be for that forever job. It may be for a temporary job you need to make ends meet between now and going back to work at your permanent job,” Cannon said. “We want to make sure people are back into the workforce before those benefits end so they can continue to provide for their families.”


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