Tennessee cuts off $300 federal unemployment supplement
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Tuesday announced that his state would be withdrawing from the federal $300-per-week unemployment supplement, joining a growing number of Southern states that are opting out of the program.
Federal unemployment assistance, which was expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, will end in the state on July 3, the Tennessean reported.
“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”
The Tennessean notes that the Volunteer State ranks among the lowest in terms of state unemployment benefits, paying $275 a week, more than $100 below the national average.
Tennessee will also be opting out of federal programs that have allowed people who would usually not be eligible for benefits to receive them.
The newspaper noted that the National Federation of Independent Business, a Nashville-based business organization, sent a letter to Lee on Monday night asking him to withdraw from the federal assistance program.
Despite ending federal unemployment benefits, the state government continues to accept federal stimulus funds from aid package passed by both President Biden and former President Trump, the Tennessean noted.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler (R) was also considering cutting off federal benefits in order to force recipients back into the workforce. Other states such as Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arkansas and Montana have already withdrawn from the program.
Kersha Cartwright, a spokesperson for Butler, told The Hill that a decision regarding federal benefits in Georgia could be made as early as this Friday.
Calls from Republicans to end expanded unemployment benefits have grown following an underwhelming April jobs report, as they claim the benefits disincentive workers from reentering the workforce.
The $300 supplement is currently scheduled to end in September. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said on Friday that he planned to introduce a bill to phase out the supplement by the end of this month.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also signaled its support for ending the boosted unemployment benefits in light of the disappointing jobs report.