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Application for employment benefits form with computer keyboard and pen on white background. Unemployment rate has risen sharply in United States due to closed business caused by corona virus outbreak - stock photo unemployment tile jobs tile

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee distributed unemployment benefits to more than 290,000 people last week as the number of jobless workers remains high due to the new coronavirus outbreak.

The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development reported Thursday that more than 21,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits during the week that ended last Saturday.

The amount of new claims filed has remained relatively steady in the past four weeks, and last week's number is way down from a high of more than 116,000 new claims filed the week ending April 4.

Unemployment has skyrocketed since March, when Gov. Bill Lee and city and county officials began managing public safety concerns raised by the pandemic by closing or limiting access to businesses. Memphis and Nashville have delayed plans to increase capacities at restaurants, retail stores and other businesses after the number of cases and hospitalizations increased in the past two weeks.

More than $298 million in unemployment benefits was paid out last week in Tennessee. The entire total came in the form of federal funds distributed under the federal CARES Act.

Tennessee reported a record high unemployment rate in April at 15.5%, and the rate in May was also in double digits.

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