The Investigators: New unemployment filings are going down but will the decrease continue?

The Investigators: New unemployment filings are going down but will the decrease continue?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The number of people for unemployment has been decreasing in the Mid-South for the past three weeks.

As businesses begin to re-open, The Investigators looked into if the decrease can expect to continue.

Suzi Webb lost her medical assistant job when her clinic all but shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The only procedures that they could do is when a patient come in through the ER and it was life or death," said Suzi Webb. "Being in the medical field for 19 years, there’s always been a demand. It’s something I never thought I would experience.”

Webb, as a single mom of four, filed for unemployment for the first time in her life.

“I was definitely concerned how I was going to provide for my children and how I was going to pay my bills,” said Webb.

When someone files for unemployment for the first time it’s called an Initial Claim.

Federal Reserve Bank data shows the biggest spike in initial claims was for the week ending in April 4 for Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Since then, initial claims have been steadily going down across the Mid-South.

“It means that you had a lot of people who were laid off or furloughed at the beginning of this cycle,” Alan Crone told The Investigators. Crone is an employment attorney for The Crone Law Firm.

According to Crone, the spike on April 4 came from self-employed, independent contractors were not eligible for unemployment until the CARES Act passed. For that reason, the decrease we’ve seen since then is deceiving.

“It doesn’t take into account people who are already on the rolls,” he said. “We still have a huge unemployment situation in this country.”

Since March 25, 425,668 Tennesseans, 201,890 Mississippians and 176,895 Arkansas have filed for unemployment insurance for the first time.

Crone said even as the government allows businesses to reopen, initial claims will continue to be filed in the future.

“Hopefully as more areas reopen we’ll continue to see those numbers go down,” said Crone. "A lot of my clients are saying we’re going to take this slowly and it’s a two-sided coin. Businesses have to say we’re ready to open and customers have to say we’re ready to go.

For Webb, she hopes her job will be ready as soon as possible.

“Hopefully no longer than the end of May," she said. “I’m OK til then but if it extends past that. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

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