Another 28k Tennesseans filed for unemployment benefits last week

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U.S. one-hundred dollar currency banknotes pass through a money counting machine at a bank branch inside the FHB Commercial Bank Ltd, also known as FHB Kereskedelmi Bank Zrt, headquarters in Budapest, Hungary on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. Hungary moved closer to regaining its investment grade status at Moody’s Investors Service after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government helped reduce the country’s debt load and kept the budget deficit in check. Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images

NEW YORK — The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development said more than 28,000 Tennesseans filed for unemployment benefits last week.

In the week ending March 16, 28,692 new claims were filed, a slight decrease from the previous week’s total of 29,308. It’s the sixth week in a row where the state has seen a downward trend in claims, but still some 532,580 people have needed to claim aid since March 15.

To date, the state has paid out nearly $64 million to 319,574 claims. Federal payments are significantly higher at $295 million.

Nationally another 2.4 million Americans filed for first-time benefits last week, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. In total, 38.6 million people have filed for initial unemployment aid since mid-March, when lockdowns began in full force across the country.

In a quirk that you don’t see every week, claims for the week ended May 9 were revised down rather sharply — from nearly 3 million to 2.7 million. Although that’s welcome news, it was expected, caused by a reporting mistake from Connecticut’s Labor Department that way overreported the number of claims from the prior week.

Now the (relatively) good news: First-time claims have declined nationally for seven straight weeks. They peaked at 6.9 million in the final week of March.

But joblessness remains a crisis in the United States. Wide swaths of the country’s labor market will remain closed as the coronavirus makes returning to work impossible for many Americans. Economists expect many — but not all — jobs will return as the economy reopens. But experts remain concerned that some jobs will be permanently eliminated by this crisis.

Continued jobless claims — which count people filing for unemployment benefits for at least two-weeks in a row — rose to 25.1 million. Economists are paying more attention to how many people are claiming benefits longer-term to understand how the labor market is recovering as the economy is beginning to reopen.

But unemployment claims are not equal to lost jobs. The two numbers are based on different surveys.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics last jobs report showed some 20 million jobs got wiped out in April, while the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7%, its highest level since the agency began tracking it in 1948.

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