Pandemic Unemployment Benefits End as Businesses Suffer Labor Shortages

July 6, 2021

In May, Governor Bill Lee announced the end of all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs in Tennessee, effective July 3. This includes a $300 additional weekly payment supplement to Tennessee’s state unemployment. Tennessee is one of twenty-five to end participation in the federal program.

Federal pandemic unemployment programs set to end include the following:

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides for an additional $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits for those who would not usually qualify, such as the self-employed, gig workers and part-time workers
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides for an extension of benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted
  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), which provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with mixed earnings

Smith County’s unemployment rate was in the top ten counties in Tennessee at 3.8% for May. The county has the lowest unemployment in the Upper Cumberland and beats the region average of 4.5%.

Even with the lowest unemployment in the region, local employers have plenty of job openings and are struggling to fill open positions. According to a survey of Tennessee businesses conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business, ninety-four percent of Tennessee business owners who are hiring said they are having trouble getting people to apply for open positions. 63% of those having difficulty finding work said federal unemployment benefits are a primary reason why.

Local businesses have restructured their staffing, reduced operating hours, and temporarily closed due to their employment levels. Many employers are offering sign-on bonuses to entice prospective employees to apply.

Currently, there are over 134 unique listings for positions in Smith County listed in Many of these listings are for jobs where multiple employees are needed. A search of available jobs on Indeed shows approximately 1,935 jobs postings for positions within 25 miles of Carthage.

The Tennessee Virtual American Job Center,, allows Tennesseans to research different programs that can help remove barriers to employment so they can more easily reenter Tennessee’s workforce.