Federal pandemic unemployment benefits to expire in Tennessee on Saturday

Published: Jun. 27, 2021 at 5:36 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands of people in Tennessee will lose federal pandemic unemployment benefits next Saturday.

Tennessee is joining Arkansas and Mississippi in ending those benefits early.

Federal pandemic unemployment benefits Congress passed in March 2020 initially provided $600 weekly payments to those who found themselves suddenly without work.

Those payments were lowered to $300 in August 2020.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed a law extending those benefits to September.

But governors in a growing number of states, including all three Mid-South states, have decided to end the benefits early.

“The fact of the matter is, for Mississippi to experience a full economic recovery post COVID We need to get our people back to work,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

Reeves says since he ended the benefits in his state on June 12, employers have had an easier time filling jobs.

“We’re seeing more and more individuals sign up for jobs, more and more applications,” Reeves said. “You can talk to employers anywhere in North Mississippi and what you find is that there are more and more people that are coming back to work.”

Arkansas ended its federal pandemic unemployment benefits on June 26.

Tennessee is set to end its federal unemployment benefits on 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 Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

President Biden says there’s a simple solution for businesses still in need of workers.

“Pay them more,” Biden said. “This is an employee’s bargaining chip now. They’re going to have to compete and start paying hard-working people a decent wage.”

In addition to the $300 weekly payments provided through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, other federal pandemic programs such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) will also end on July 3 in Tennessee.

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