Nearly 80,000 people in greater Memphis area file for unemployment


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Nearly 80,000 people in the greater Memphis area have filed unemployment claims.

The state is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic with no set timetable for when everyone will be back to work.

WREG has been looking at weekly filings and speaking with those directly impacted.

We met 24-year-old Monitra Cage at food giveaway Thursday. Like the tens of thousands of people living in the greater Memphis area, she’s without a job.

“Struggling, going through so much,” Cage said. “It’s hard.”

Cage says at one point she hit a rough patch, but with the help of a local non-profit, she turned her life around and was steadily working.

“Picking and packing, it was like loading up things, items and shipping them off,” Cage said.

That was until the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Mid-South.

Cage says she misses working.

“Yes, I do, I love to work,” Cage said, “like that is my main thing.”

New numbers released from the state of Tennessee Workforce and Labor Development Department show 79,999 people in the greater Memphis area have filed new unemployment claims from March 15 to May 9. That’s in Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties.

Most recently, there have been about 6,600 claims filed, compared to the more than 15,000 at the beginning of April.

For many across the state, the wait for financial help continues.

Melanie Osborn says her claim still hasn’t gone through and she’s struggling. 

“I’ve been off work since March 9, and I filed on March 15,” Osborn said, “and it’s just been a waiting process.”

In this time of waiting, with so much unknown and out of our control, Cage says she’s thankful to the friends and family keeping the faith things will get better.

“I’m trying to stay strong. My mom always taught me to keep my head up and stay strong,” Cage said.

So far, the state has processed more than 300,000 claims.

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