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State Numbers Reflect National Upswing in Jobless Claims

Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

More than 6,800 people in and around the Knoxville metro area filed for unemployment in the third week of March. They were among the more than 39,000 Tennesseans who filed claims, according to data released Thursday afternoon.

The numbers are among the first hard proof of the economic fallout from COVID-19. Earlier in the day, news reports hinted at the toll imparted by closures and limited business for food service, hotels and motels, and tourism – all sectors heavily affected by measures put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Regional numbers provided by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development showed northern Middle Tennessee – the district that includes Nashville and its suburban communities – have been hardest hit so far. In the thirteen-county region, nearly 17,000 people filed for unemployment in the week ending March 21.

For comparison, the entire state registered around 2,000 claims in the first week of March.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development initially said it would wait until Friday morning to release information about jobless claims, but began sending out the numbers Thursday, hours after a federal report showed record unemployment filings nationally.

The numbers offer a snapshot of last week, but data expected over the next month will fill out the economic picture even more. The state’s monthly jobs report is due out in late April, and will reflect employment activity broken down by job type.