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Report questions unemployment payments
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NASHVILLE (AP) — A U.S. Department of Labor report has questioned how well Tennessee is overseeing unemployment payments to an estimated 120,000 people as the state’s jobless rate lingers at near historic high levels.The report shows Tennessee has one of the highest “improper payment” rates in the nation, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. Tennessee’s rate was 14.47 percent for improper payments, meaning the state overpaid an estimated $310.7 million over a three-year period.But State Employment Security Administrator Don Ingram blamed the problems in accountability on the huge influx of unemployed workers during the Great Recession, saying that surge overwhelmed the state’s computers.During the recession, Tennessee’s unemployment rose from 4.6 percent in March 2007 to a high of 10.8 percent in July 2009. Last year, 418,000 Tennesseans filed claims for unemployment benefits.“It’s not necessarily fraud, and it’s not necessarily an overpayment,” Ingram said.