Tennessee jobless claims triple, recession fears grow due to COVID-19 outbreak

FILE - This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. The Labor Department said Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, that 244,000 Americans applied for jobless aid last week, up by 6,000 from the previous week.(AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

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Claims for new jobless benefits by workers who just lost their jobs in Tennessee nearly tripled in the second week of March compared with the start of the month, according to state figures released Tuesday.

Chris Cannon, assistant administrator for communications at the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said Tuesday "it is not possible to determine an exact number filed due to the COVID-19 emergency." But economists fear that business cutbacks and closings due to the growing virus pandemic are likely to lead to more layoffs as schools, stores, restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other businesses scale back or suspend operations altogether to limit chances of spreading the virus.

Since March 8, the state has received 6,092 new unemployment claims.