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Unemployment Bonuses Damage

Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Lawmakers Accelerated the Economic Recovery By Ending Expanded Unemployment Benefits Early

Naples, FL—new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) shows that Tennessee leaders accelerated economic recovery with their decision to end the $300 weekly unemployment bonus and pandemic-related expansions early.  

Findings show that by April 2021, Tennessee was spending an average of $9.6 million a day on unemployment benefits. At that time, research shows that as unemployment claims remained at astonishing levels, businesses posted a then-record high of 200,000 open jobs.  

Governor Bill Lee recognized that there were more jobs available than Tennesseans actively looking for work, and in May announced a plan to end the unemployment bonus and other expansions by July 3. Following the announcement, unemployment costs dropped by nearly 60 percent and 2.2 million job searches were conducted on the state’s job portal. Tennessee employers have also hired more than 750,000 people since the announcement, which reflects the largest July hiring spree in state history. 

“The federal unemployment bonus and pandemic-related expansions threatened the basic survival of many Tennessee businesses. Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to end overinflated benefits early accelerated the economic recovery and empowered countless individuals to return to work,” said Hayden Dublois, Senior Research Fellow at the FGA. “As individuals re-enter the workforce, open jobs are filled, and taxpayer resources are preserved, it is clear that ending benefits that pay better than work can reignite the economy.” 


The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a non-profit, multi-state think tank that specializes in health care, welfare, work, and election reform. To learn more, visit

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