Shelby County continues to have the highest unemployment in the state

Shelby County unemployment highest in Tennessee

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee unemployment rates continue to decrease, but Shelby County still has the highest unemployment in the state.

“We’ve seen a steady decrease in the number of people filing for unemployment since July it’s been going down,” said Chris Cannon, Assistant Administrator, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Cannon says pre-pandemic the department typically received 2,500 unemployment applications per week.

At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, back in April, more than 100,000 Tennesseans were applying per week.

Now, Cannon says even with unemployment rates decreasing the number of people applying per week remains steady at 10,000 and Shelby County is leading the state.

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“We are seeing the highest unemployment in the Southwest area of the state and Shelby County has had the highest unemployment in the state for the last several months,” said Cannon.

Sharlena Robinson says she applied for unemployment back in March and was approved, but has still not received any financial help, and hasn’t been able to get any answers.

“I want to say June, and they approved me, but did anything else and for there I haven’t been able to contact through phone, email, through their help desk online,” said Robinson.

Robinson says she has lupus and diabetes, which affects the number of jobs she can apply for.

She says the number of work-from-home jobs is limited.

Cindy Ettingoff, CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services says the number of people reaching out for help with unemployment has decreased.

Hundreds of Tennesseans who are eligible for unemployment have not received their benefits

She hopes more jobs become available as Shelby County continues to loosen restrictions.

“The hope of new jobs is increasing as long as restrictions are released, we’ll just see what happens with those. I mean that may be our next wave,” said Ettingoff.

In regards to Robinsons' claim, Cannon says it is moving forward and she should receive her benefits within 48-72 hours.

The Department of Labor also says it’s important for people who have applied to do their weekly certifications because not doing so can cause a delay.

Cannon also suggests calling on the weekend or Monday- Friday before 8 a.m. or from 5 – 7 p.m. when it’s not peak hours.

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