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Tennesseans could see $300 federal weekly unemployment benefit by end of week

Vivian Jones
The Center Square

Unemployed Tennesseans could see an additional $300 federal weekly unemployment benefit by the end of this week or early next, Department of Labor and Workforce Commissioner Jeff McCord said Tuesday.
The department received about $236 million in grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday to provide an additional $300 weekly benefit to Tennesseans and is processing payments in the coming days.
“We did receive funding for that grant yesterday afternoon from FEMA,” McCord told reporters at the state Capitol on Tuesday. “We anticipate implementing and processing those payments here within the next few days.”
Tennessee’s requirement that unemployment claimants be actively looking for work will be reinstated in September, McCord said. The department temporarily suspended the work search requirement for unemployment benefits at the height of the pandemic.
“We also have to look for a long-term repair to our state’s economy, get Tennesseans back to the stability of good paying jobs,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “As the process of economic recovery continues, and employers desperately need employees, the department will begin the process of reinstating work search requirements.”
The $236 million grant received by the department covers payments for the first three weeks of August. FEMA approved the state’s application for a grant to provide a federal Lost Wages Assistance benefit over the weekend. Funds come from a $44 billion allotment of FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund set aside by President Donald Trump earlier this month.
Because of the limited nature of the funds, the number of states that choose to participate in the program will determine how long funds last. So far, FEMA has approved at least 30 states for unemployment grants. McCord said Tennesseans will have to wait and see whether the state will get another allotment.
“We do anticipate this not lasting very long,” McCord said. “We anticipate it lasting five or six weeks, maybe more, but something in that area.”

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