State gets $142M for unemployment insurance

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 12:01am
Staff Reports

The U.S. Department of Labor recently agreed it would give Tennessee millions of dollars in aid to assist recent entrants to the workforce, workers seeking part time work and workers with children.

“Tennessee has made important updates to its UI program to better meet the needs of 21st century workers and their families,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Especially in times like this, it is essential that the safety net be expanded to include recent entrants to the workforce and part time workers, and that jobless workers be able to support their families.”

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development may use the funds to pay unemployment benefits, according to conditions of the federal Recovery Act. Also, the legislature may use them to administer its unemployment insurance program or deliver employment services.

“This stimulus, along with other responsible measures enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly this year, will help ensure the long-term health and fiscal stability of the [unemployment insurace] program,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Representatives Bart Gordon (D-Murfreesboro) and Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) both emphasized Tennessee’s need for the Recovery Act funds.

“Unemployment insurance helps Tennessee families get through tough economic times," Cooper said.

Critics of unemployment insurance say it ultimately prolongs unemployment rather than temporary alleviating it. But state unemployment now exceeds 10 percent, and the funds will be used to help those who are struggling to make ends meet while they search for employment, according to Solis.

“These Recovery Act funds represent another way in which vital support is being provided to workers and their families in auto communities in Tennessee," added Dr. Ed Montgomery, executive director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers.