Tennesseans speak out on unemployment struggles during virtual town hall meeting

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — During a House Democratic Caucus virtual gathering, out of work or struggling Tennesseans shared their stories of not getting state labor department benefits.

It was called “Tennessee Unemployment Nightmares” town hall meeting.

“There needs to be some immediacy and urgency applied because I’m going to lose my apartment and lost my car insurance,” said Kevin Pritchett of Memphis.

This comes as the state Labor and Workforce Commission works through a mountain of new claims as well as a backlog of applications dating back to March.

“I am about to break myself,” said Memphis resident Tjuana Kinard. “I’m on the verge of losing everything and it don’t seem like nobody can help me.”

“I got denied,” Maria Sedita said. “I’m at the point I don’t know what to do. I even considered taking my baby to a fire station because I can’t afford it right now.”

 Thursday, the state reported an additional 28,000 claims.

“This is the number one constituent issue I receive calls from daily,” Tennessee Rep. Antonio Parkinson. “There are multiple calls, frustration, deep concern and uncertainty about their financial futures.”

Some Democrats blame Republican Governor Lee for leaving jobless Tennesseans in financial limbo.

“We know many of you are waiting weeks and weeks and weeks for unemployment that you as taxpayers have paid into over many years. We know it’s an unacceptable situation,” said Tennessee Rep. Mike Stewart.

Last week the governor says unemployed Tennesseans haven’t been forgotten.

“As we begin to move the state’s economy forward in a way that will help those who are struggling, who are unemployed that are in need economically,” Lee said.

 It’s why some say actions speak louder than words.

“I’m on my eighth week of certification,” Kinard said. “I haven’t received nothing, not even a call back.”

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