Officials: More than 120,000 people have filed for unemployment in Tennessee

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee officials say more than 120,000 people have filed for unemployment in Tennessee in the past two weeks.

Counties within the greater Memphis area made up 12,5000 filings ending last week.

Throughout the country, more than 6.6 million people filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week.

A spokesman with the state says the hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit.

“It is scary, it’s an uncertain time for Tennesseans,” said Chris Cannon with the Tennessee Labor & Workforce Development. “People don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills. It’s the first of the month. Rent is due, the electric bill. People have bills, and unemployment is a safety net program to help make ends meet during tough times. It’s by no means meant to be a paycheck.”

Bar graph showing the rise in unemployment filings in the state of Tennessee

Reuben Skahill, a single father in Memphis, said he was laid off from his bartending job.

“I’m anticipating some struggles going forward,” Skahill said.

But Cannon says the state is working to get those laid off back on the job. The state is partnering with grocers and retailers, whose business is booming right now, to create a talent exchange.

“To match folks who are out of work with companies and industries who have jobs right now, that they need to hire for,” Cannon said. “Get you to work to work as quickly as possible so you can earn money right then to support your family so you’re not dependent on that unemployment check.”

It’s something to help during this tough time.

“Last week we paid out millions and millions of dollars in benefits that we don’t typically pay out so the system is working. It may have some responsive issues sometimes because so many people are using it.”

If you’re interested in the talent exchange program, please visit

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