Tennessee unemployment highest in 37 years in April

By , Daily Memphian Updated: May 21, 2020 3:55 PM CT | Published: May 21, 2020 2:35 PM CT

Tennessee’s 14.7% unemployment rate in April was the highest on record, the state said Thursday, May 21.

Memphis area jobless claims top 100,000 since pandemic hit

The jobless rate spiked from 3.3% in March as the economic shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic deepened.

The previous high unemployment rate was 12.9% in December 1982 and January 1983.

Federal funds targeted to keep unemployment fund from draining

The April unemployment numbers were released after the state said earlier Thursday total unemployment filings since March 15 totaled 532,580. National claims rose to 38 million over a nine-week period.

The state reported 6,081 new claims in southwest Tennessee, including Shelby County, in the week ending May 16, bringing the nine-week total to 86,080 in Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties.

Tennesseans running headlong into unemployment woes

Adding the Mississippi and Arkansas parts of the Memphis metro area, which the Tennessee numbers do not reflect, would likely raise the total since March 15 to more than 103,000.

The new unemployment claims have been tapering off week by week as parts of the economy reopen.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Tennessee lost 376,900 nonfarm jobs between March and April, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted data for April.

Pace slows, but pandemic job losses near 80,000 in Memphis area

The largest decreases came in leisure/hospitality, manufacturing and professional/business services.

The state said nonfarm employment declined by 341,000 jobs over the 12 months ending in April.

The national unemployment rate also spiked to 14.7%, an increase of 10.3 percentage points from March.

Tennessee’s county-by-county numbers are due to be released May 28.

The Tennessee labor department said there are more than 150,000 current job openings listed on the state workforce development website. The website also has information about job retraining, interview and resume techniques and local job data.

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Unemployment rate joblessness unemployment claims Tennessee record unemployment
Wayne Risher

Wayne Risher

Business news reporter, 43-year veteran of print journalism, 35-year resident of Memphis, University of Georgia alumnus and proud father and spouse of University of Memphis graduates.


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