‘Two Steps Forward, One Step Back,’ TN Labor Chief Says Of Shutdown Setback

Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips (far right) was among several top state officials who spoke Thursday at one of several job fairs taking place statewide specifically for veterans. (Credit WPLN / Daniel Potter)

Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips (far right) was among top state officials who spoke Thursday at one of several job fairs taking place statewide specifically for veterans. (Credit WPLN / Daniel Potter)

Efforts to clear a longstanding backlog at Tennessee’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development were hampered by the partial government shutdown that just ended.

The department has several hundred federally funded workers who are among the many returning to work today after being furloughed for two weeks.

The 400 workers including many who handle disputed unemployment claims.  It’s an area where Tennessee has had a backlog dating back to the recession.  Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips was hoping to have it finally caught up by next month:

“It’s like two steps forward and one back.  So something that we had no control over negatively impacted our ability to do our job.”

Now Phillips says it’ll be more like December, or maybe January.  By then, Congress will face new deadlines to keep the government open, and pay bills it owes.

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