Tennessee governor announces end of additional federal unemployment benefits

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the end of all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs in Tennessee, effective July 3.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” said Gov. Lee. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

Tennessee is the latest Mid-South state to announce an end to the federal unemployment benefits. Both Arkansas and Mississippi made similar announcements over the past few days.

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Federal pandemic unemployment programs set to end on July 3 include the following:

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides for an additional $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation

• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits for those who would not usually qualify, such as the self-employed, gig workers and part-time workers

• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides for an extension of benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted

• Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), which provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with mixed earnings

Unemployment claimants in Tennessee have been required to complete three weekly job searches in order to remain eligible for benefits since Oct. 4, 2020. Any weeks filed before July 3 that are eligible under federal program requirements will continue to be processed.

Democratic Caucus leaders in the State Legislature condemned the governor’s decision to end all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs.

Sen. Raumesh Akbari, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, said:

“More than 200,000 Tennesseans have been laid off since Jan. 1 and the Lee administration just made the irresponsible decision to punish their families in a time of need. That’s not leadership, it’s legislative violence. This callous decision highlights just how out of touch this administration is with the lives of everyday Tennesseans.”

Rep. Vincent Dixie, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said:

“It’s difficult to describe this decision as anything other than ‘heartless.’ First, we cut the number of weeks that Tennesseans can collect unemployment and then we literally take money out of their pockets from a system they paid into. It’s a targeted, heartless assault on people who are simply trying to feed their families at the worst possible time.”