unemployment

Gov. Lee announces withdrawal from feds’ pandemic unemployment programs

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters outside the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that Tennessee will withdraw from the federal government’s enhanced unemployment benefit program during the pandemic, citing the more than 250,000 unfilled positions in the state.

Democrats are panning the decision as unfair to people who have lost their jobs.

“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,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Raumesh Akbari. “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.”

Here’s the full release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, 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.”

Gov. Lee’s letter to the U.S. Department of Labor can be viewed here.

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.

The Tennessee Workforce Development System stands ready to help Tennesseans return to the workforce. Career specialists are available to help job seekers match with new employment opportunities at more than 80 American Job Centers across the state. They can work to identify possible training programs that can help an individual change their career pathway or enter an apprenticeship program so they can earn a competitive wage, while they learn a new trade.

The Tennessee Virtual American Job Center, www.TNVirtualAJC.com, allows Tennesseans to research different programs that can help remove barriers to employment so they can more easily reenter Tennessee’s workforce.

As federal pandemic unemployment compensation ends in Tennessee, the state encourages claimants to search for work at www.Jobs4TN.gov, which currently has over 250,000 active job postings of all skill levels. 

Blast from the past: Ramsey featured on HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight’

A clip of a 2011 Ron Ramsey presser featured on HBO last weekend. (Screengrab from HBO)

Former Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey made an unexpected appearance on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” over the weekend.

The bit featured a clip of the Blountville Republican speaking to members of the Tennessee Capitol Hill Press Corps in 2011 about imposing tighter restrictions on unemployment benefits.

Here’s the exchange captured by the defunct TNReport.com:

Ramsey: “If you were fired from your job for just cause, maybe even for stealing from your employer of chronic absenteeism, you shouldn’t be able to get unemployment.”

Reporter: “You don’t get unemployment insurance if you’re fired for cause now –“

Ramsey: “The law says you’re not supposed to, but buddy let me assure you, nine times out of 10 they get their unemployment.”

Reporter: “Nine times out of 10?”

Ramsey: “I don’t know about that. OK, that was a Ron Ramsey blanket statement there. But there are plenty of examples that they get it.”

Watch the full clip below, starting at about the 10-minute mark (warning: customarily colorful language used by Oliver):

Lee, Blackburn say state being short-changed by $164M in COVID-19 relief bill

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters following his address to a joint convention of the General Assembly on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee and fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn say in an opinion piece for Fox News that congressional Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is a “blue state payday that shortchanges Tennessee by $164 million because it uses a distribution formula based on unemployment figures rather than population.”

Left unsaid is that the difference makes up about 2.7% of the $6.1 billion in federal money projected to flow to the state under the plan. And nobody is talking about saying no to the massive influx of federal dollars into Tennessee.

“This hyper-partisan bill and the process through which it’s being passed represents everything that’s wrong with Washington,” Lee and Blackburn say in the piece. “And unfortunately, Tennessee and other fiscally conservative states are on the losing end of the deal.”

Tennessee unemployment edges up, but still ‘historically low’

Tennessee’s unemployment rate edged up to 3.6% in August, a 0.1 percentage point increase from the previous month. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said that despite “this very small fluctuation,” Tennessee’s jobless rate is still among the lowest in the nation.

“The fact the rate has seen such little movement over the last year reflects the strength of our state’s economy and our work over the past eight years to develop Tennessee’s workforce to meet the needs of today’s employers,” Haslam said in a statement.

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TN unemployment rate 3.5 percent in May; governor happy with ‘tremendous progress’

Press release from the governor’s office 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced today that Tennessee’s May 2018 statewide unemployment rate of 3.5 percent marked the 11th consecutive month the figure has been 3.5 percent or lower.

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April figures show TN employment higher, wages lower

Tennessee employers added 45,000 jobs across the state in the past year, lowering the state’s seasonally-adjusted jobless rate from 4 percent a year ago to 3.4 percent last month, reports the Times Free Press. But the average hourly wage paid Tennessee workers was lower than a year ago.

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TN February unemployment rate 3.4 percent

Press release from Department of Labor and Workforce Development

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced statewide unemployment remained near historic low levels in February with the preliminary rate at 3.4 percent.

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TN November unemployment rate was 3.1 percent (up a tad from Oct.)

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE  Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced the November statewide unemployment rate posted significantly lower than November 2016 and notably lower than the national average. The preliminary, seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for November 2017 was 3.1 percent – two percentage points lower than it was one year ago and one percentage point below the national average of 4.1.  Continue reading

Decline in Tennesseans seeking work tied to record low unemployment

Though the labor market has grown robustly nationwide this year, progress has been uneven across blue states and red states, reports the Wall Street Journal — using Tennessee as an example.

An increasing number of people in red states have stopped looking for work, while a larger share of people in blue states are actively in the workforce.

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TN unemployment rate remains at record low 3 percent

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced that for the fifth month in a row, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is lower than it has been in recorded history.

The state unemployment rate for October 2017 held steady at 3.0 percent, matching the historically low rate set in September. Tennessee first marked an all-time low unemployment rate in June at 3.6 percent, which was bested by the July rate of 3.4 percent, and then in August fell to 3.3 percent.  Continue reading