NASHVILLE — The State of Tennessee announced its March unemployment rates last week, and those figures remained low, increasing only 0.1% to 3.5% statewide because the coronavirus numbers will not be completely reflected until May when the April numbers are calculated.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said in a release that it did not begin to see an unprecedented increase in unemployment claims until the third and fourth weeks of March. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, however, indicated that 324,000 new claims for unemployment had been filed over the past four weeks, leading the state to implement a staggered system for people to call in beginning April 19 for file jobless claims.

One reason the March numbers do not look as bad as they are is that the survey the federal government conducts to determine the number of unemployed workers in each state took place in Tennessee between March 8 and 14. This explains why the current unemployment rate does not reflect the struggle many Tennesseans are currently facing.

Nationally, unemployment increases nearly a percentage point in March. The seasonally adjusted rate for the United States is up by 0.9 of a percentage point to 4.4%, when comparing it to February’s rate of 3.5%.

The state of Tennessee will release the county unemployment rates for March 2020 on Thursday, April 23, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. CT. The statewide unemployment rate for April 2020 will come out on May 21, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. CT.

For those filling unemployment claims, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development went to a staggered schedule for unemployment claimants completing their weekly certifications. This change will spread out the number of people certifying over three days, creating a more responsive experience for claimants using Jobs4TN.gov.

With so many applying for unemployment over the past four weeks, it put an unprecedented strain on the unemployment computer system. While claimants can certify any day of the week, most choose Sunday, putting a workload 21 times the normal rate of usage onto the system.

Starting this past Sunday, April 19, claimants will have access to complete their weekly certifications according to the last digit of their social security number. Those whose SSN ends in 0-3 will file on Sunday. Those whose final SSN digit is 4-6 will call on Monday with those ending in 7-9 on Tuesday. If a claimant misses their scheduled day, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are open certification days for any social security number.

Once a claimant completes the weekly certification process, their financial institution typically posts the benefit payment to their account or debit card within 48 to 72 hours.

For claimants who normally certify on Sunday, switching to a Monday or Tuesday certification will change the day of their weekly deposit.

Claimants must certify each week to ensure eligibility for benefit payments and to avoid the potential for overpayment. If someone does not certify for a particular week, they have five weeks to go back and do so, but the state is unable to process the payment for that week until they complete the missed certification.

The state of Tennessee has started paying approved unemployment claimants their first installment of the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit, in addition to their Tennessee Unemployment Compensation (TUC) benefit last week.

The number of payments is projected to increase throughout the week and will likely exceed 150,000.

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