TN adds call center to help clear backlog of thousands of pending unemployment payments

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- News channel 11 continues to track the unemployment payments thousands of Tennesseans have waited on for weeks, sometimes months.

Last month, Chris Cannon with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development told us the backlog of 6,000 claims still in the system, beyond the 21 days the federal government allows, should be cleared by the end of January.

Now, at last check, the backlog is at about 4,800 claims, according to Cannon.

In May, the state moved the process for filing for unemployment benefits completely online, eliminating the option to do it over the phone, which is a complaint we’ve received from viewers many times this past month.

It seems the state heard those complaints. As of just a few weeks ago, the state now has 30 temporary live operators answering phones in the Unemployment Security Division for people simply wanting to get an update on the status of their claim.

“They will not be able to work a claim they’ll be able to look at a claim, get the status of a claim, and if there’s something wrong or they can see there is an issue with that claim they can send that on to a team,” Cannon said.

As the state works to clear the thousands of claims still in the system, Cannon said those operators will stay on as long as they are needed.

He said his department is clearing 1,200 claims a day and the backlog should be cleared within the next couple of weeks.

Cannon said during the seasonal temporary layoffs the number of claims coming in is more than double the average. Now that those have slowed down, he said agents will be able to make more progress in clearing out those pending claims.

You can click here for the state’s website detailing your options if you are still waiting on your payment.

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