The number of Tennesseans newly applying for — and receiving — unemployment continues to slow. For the first time since March, fewer than 20,000 people newly asked for help last week.
And after surging in April to the highest level in a generation, the May unemployment rate in Tennessee came back down to 11.3%. That’s an improvement of more than 4 percentage points from the prior month, according to numbers provided Thursday by the state’s labor department..
Still, more than 250,000 residents are relying on unemployment assistance.
Nearly $300 million was paid last week using CARES Act money.
For weeks, Tennessee has been using federal pandemic relief funds to pay its share of unemployment claims. That’s intended to prevent the state’s unemployment trust fund from dipping below $1 billion. Crossing that threshold would trigger tax changes for employers at the end of this month.
At the end of May, the state’s unemployment insurance fund balance was $1.052 billion, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.