NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Many people in Tennessee receiving unemployment benefits through programs funded by the federal CARES Act may be approaching the end of their weekly payments, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Officials said people who started receiving benefits from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program soon after it started could be approaching the maximum 39 weeks of payments. The program is funded by the federal CARES Act.
The PUA program gave benefits to claimants who lost wages and were not working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is available to workers not usually covered by unemployment insurance, according to officials, including self-employed workers, contract workers and gig workers.
The PUA program will end on Dec. 26, due to federal law.
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is also funded by the CARES Act. It gives eligible claimants up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits after they end in the state’s program. This program also ends on Dec. 26, due to federal law.
Claimants can also receive payments from an Extended Benefits program, which gives claimants an additional 13 weeks of unemployment after exhausting other programs.
Officials warned that the U.S. Department of Labor can end the program in Tennessee with little notice to claimants if they determine it has reached a threshold where the program is no longer needed.
“A lot of people suffered from this pandemic, and unemployment is one of the most severe ways, besides the health piece,” Governor Bill Lee said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Officials started a Reemploy Tennessee initiative to make more resources available for job seekers, to help them transition back into the workforce. A state website is available that helps connect people with employers.
Lee also said that the state has around a 6.2% unemployment rate.