TN new unemployment claims nearly four times the level they were before the pandemic

TENNESSEE — The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said it continues to receive an unprecedented number of new unemployment claims each week.

One Memphis man said he and his pregnant fiancé are on the verge of losing it all if he doesn’t get the money he is owed.

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Even more than a year into the pandemic, people are still struggling to get their unemployment benefits.

A spokesman with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development said new unemployment claims are still nearly four times the level that they were before the pandemic.

“This is it. I’m about to lose where I’m living now, and my fiancé is four months. like this is it,” said Jonathan Ransom.

Ransom and his family exhausted every option after losing his job when the pandemic started. Ransom got a new job but said he was let go from that, too, in October.

“It’s getting real hard. I even lost my food stamps. I don’t even have food stamps anymore,” he replied.

Ransom joins thousands of Tennesseans still waiting on their unemployment benefits. During the pandemic, it has often taken months for people to receive benefits.

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“I’ve been doing everything that I possibly can to get my unemployment taken care of, but every single time that I call I get told something different.”

A spokesman with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said along with increased demand comes an increase in potential fraud; so the department must thoroughly review each claim.

That adds time to the determination process. In the meantime, he said the department is working as quickly as possible to make sure people who are eligible get their payments.

“It’s rough; it’s really, really rough,” he said. “I just got a job at an apartment complex to do sheetrock. I couldn’t even do the job because I don’t have the money for the tools.”

In the meantime, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development said there were issues that prevented Ransom’s claim from processing.

Agents are continuing to look into his claim.