Locals lose fed jobless funds, new claims decline, job opening increase

2 minutes, 19 second read

NE Tenn. new and continued unemployment claims declined for the week ending June 3. That’s also the week Gov. Bill Lee cut off the extra $300 a week federal unemployment benefits in an effort to get more people to go back to work.

He also ended participation in federal programs that have allowed those who typically don’t qualify for benefits, such as the self-employed, to receive them, and an initiative that extended the payments once regular unemployment benefits expired.

There were 2,563 NE Tenn. residents on the state list of those receiving unemployment and 264 new claims for the week ending on June 3. The number of those classified as continued claims declined by 78 from the previous week. The number of new claims was down by 109.

One of the issues used to justify the action was the number of open jobs and the inability of employers to hire enough workers to resume pre-pandemic operations.

During the latter part of June, there were 6,559 jobs advertised by NE Tenn. employers on Jobs4TN.com. On the week ending on July 9 that number increased to 7,763.

Opponents to cutting off the federal benefit contend that most open jobs are low-wage jobs or part-time positions that offer no benefits.

Some of the trends at play are the labor shortage is giving workers more power to ask for and get higher wages. Others – especially those in the foodservice industry – have found work elsewhere and don’t plan to return to their old jobs.

What has not been covered in the public conversation is how many – in any – the furloughed workers then recalled refused to return. If the employer reported that refusal, the individual was subject to lose his or her unemployment benefits.

The local June labor market report will be available in a couple of weeks. It will provide a current look at the number of jobs, the number of people employed, the total who are unemployed and the labor force. It will also give a report on the local average private-sector wage and number of hours works. Northeast Tenn. typically has the lowest average private-sector wages in the state. That data for the Tri-Cities May report can be found by CLICKING HERE.

So far this year, the local economy has been added jobs at the average rate of 560 a month. At that rate, it will take 10 months for the local economy to recover to a pre-pandemic jobs level.

Here’s how the local county-level unemployment situation looked for the week ending on June 3. The first number is continued claims, the second is new claims.

Carter – 323, 25

Greene – 413, 35

Hawkins – 301, 19

Johnson – 35, 10

Sullivan – 827, 100

Unicoi – 86, 12

Washington – 649, 63

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