Report: More Than Half Of Tennessee’s Unemployed Are On Track To Lose Benefits

Jun 9, 2021
Originally published on June 8, 2021 3:50 pm

Tennesseans have known for a number of weeks that federal unemployment help is coming to an end, but a new report brings into focus just how big an impact that may have.

Here’s a break down of the numbers from Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, led by Democratic Rep. Don Beyer.

Ending $300 weekly payments

The report estimates that Tennessee residents, collectively, will lose more than $300 million when the state opts out of the extra federal payments, known as FPUC. For individuals, the maximum weekly aid amount will be slashed by more than half.

The report also estimates that each dollar distributed through the unemployment system generates $1.61 in local spending. Based on that value, the report projects that economies across the country will miss out on more than $13 billion in FPUC-related spending. And it says that’s still likely an understatement, since it only accounts for the federal portion of unemployment benefits.

Ending unemployment help for those who don’t usually qualify

Even greater losses may be felt by the self-employed, gig workers, and people who’ve exhausted their state benefits. Those groups, which benefit from PUA and PEUC, will lose out on unemployment help altogether. As of May, they accounted for 64.4% of all Tennessee unemployment claims, according to the report.

Conservative politicians have argued that generous unemployment benefits have made workers hesitant to re-enter the workforce, but this report argues there is insufficient evidence to support that claim. Instead, it says, the pandemic unemployment programs give workers “breathing room they need to find a better-paying job that matches their skills, experience and family demands.”

Half of all states have decided to end some federal unemployment aid early. Gov. Bill Lee announced last month that Tennessee will opt out of federal benefits beginning July 3.

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