Tennessee’s unemployment system saw an unprecedented increase in new claims filed during the COVID-19 pandemic with 532,580 since mid-March.
Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Jeff McCord said the pending claims were about 50,000 the week ending May 9th.
The number of continued claims was 314,487 the week ending May 16th.
McCord said they seemed to have leveled off and the department is seeing fewer people re-certify.
However, there are concerns from people in Giles and surrounding counties trying to call the unemployment office.
McCord said employees are working those claims whether or not people call about them.
People in the county have reported dropped calls and waiting long periods of time to talk with a claims agent.
The call center is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends, so McCord advised people call on either extremity of that time frame or on the weekends when call volumes are not as high.
Before the pandemic, there were 20 people taking calls and now there are about 420.
McCord said they are also working to improve their technology to solve problems before they even get a question about them. Their computer systems saw a more than 2,000 percent increase in usage.