Tennessee jobless benefits to be cut in April

Tennessee jobless benefits to be cut in April

March 27th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Timothy Goines, left, has help from Adrian Craighead while looking for jobs on the computer at the Tennessee Employment Service Office at Eastgate Center in Brainerd in this file photo.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

More than 10,000 unemployed Tennesseans will lose their extended jobless benefits next month because of the state's improving economy.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said today it will soon send letters to more than 10,000 people who are in the last 20 weeks of the 99 weeks of extended unemployment benefits warning that their last benefit payment will be made in the week of April 12.

The cut in the extended benefits comes as Tennessee's jobless rate falls below the U.S. average. In February, the state's unemployment rate of 8 percent was below the 8.3 percent jobless rate nationwide.

"Claimants who have been unemployed the longest are the ones affected by this change," Tennessee labor commissioner Karla Davis said. "As Tennessee's employment opportunities improve, other federal benefits could be reduced as well."

In February, Congress adopted legislation to cut the maximum number of weeks for jobless benefits in all states to no more than 73 weeks, down from the current 99 weeks. Unless Congress acts this year, all federal extended benefits for those unemployed longer than six months will end as of Dec. 31.