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Austin Unemployment Rate Dips to 6.7% in July 2020 as New Weekly Claims Decrease

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AUSTIN – Figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission today show the unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock MSA* decreased from 7.3% in June 2020 to 6.7% in July 2020. The 6.7% unemployment rate represented 81,942 residents seeking jobless benefits. The region’s unemployment rate remained below Texas (8.2%)** and national (10.5%)** rates.

The Austin-Round Rock region has experienced an annual growth rate of -4.0%, representing the collective loss of 44,800 jobs since July 2019.

Further, unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County*** decreased from 7.5% in June 2020 to 6.9% in July 2020. The 6.9% unemployment rate represented 50,485 residents who have applied for jobless benefits. The Capital Area/Travis County unemployment rate rose above the overall Austin-Round Rock MSA rate and remained below the state of Texas and national rates.

Sectors leading the July job growth are Trade, Transportation, & Utilities; Professional & Business Services; Manufacturing; Education & Health Services; and Government. The Leisure & Hospitality sector continues to experience the greatest job loss during the pandemic due to enhanced safety measures and business closures.

Tesla began posting job opportunities online tied to the gigafactory or local construction earlier this month, with more active listings for Austin-area jobs related to other local ventures.

New unemployment claims have decreased compared to earlier months in the pandemic, with 9,245 approved claims in July. The new filings decreased by the week, from 3,008 the week of July 5 to 1,516 the week of July 28.

“With the decrease in new claims, we’re hopeful that pandemic-related layoffs are tapering off,” said Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “However, while Austin’s unemployment rate is lower than at the pandemic’s beginning, it remains 2.5 times higher than the 2.8% rate in July 2019.”

The unemployed in Travis County as of June 2020 are disproportionately persons of color, younger (ages 16 to 34), and have less education than an associate’s degree, according to data available through Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insight. One in four jobless residents were previously in foodservice, retail, and personal care occupations.

Unemployment in Travis County has also disproportionately impacted lower-income residents. From March to July 2020, approximately 50 percent of jobless claimants in Travis County earned less than $30,000 per year when they were working. About 78 percent previously earned less than $50,000 per year.

Workforce Solutions has observed significant changes to unemployment benefits and workforce assistance:

  • Jobless residents are anticipating a $300 federal enhanced unemployment benefit stemming from an Executive Memorandum that President Donald Trump signed on August 8. State governments are asked, but not required, to contribute $100 to the total.
    • Before the money can be added to unemployment payments, state governments must apply for the federal funds. Governor Greg Abbott said on August 20 that Texas will apply for federal funding to provide the extra $300 every week for people who have lost their jobs. Abbott did not indicate that the state intended to boost the payment with an additional $100 per week.
  • Since the $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) expired on July 25, no pandemic stipends have been issued for the current 50,485 jobless in Travis County.
  • Amid a current four-fold increase in demand for reemployment se

Austin Unemployment Rate Continues to Fall, but Jobs Outlook Remains Cloudy, as Unemployment Drops to 7.5% in June 2020

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AUSTIN – Figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission today show the unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock MSA* decreased from 11.4% in May 2020 to 7.5% in June. The 7.5% unemployment rate represented 90,887 residents seeking jobless benefits. The region’s unemployment rate remained below Texas (8.9%)** and national (11.2%)** rates.

The Austin-Round Rock region has experienced an annual growth rate of -5.0%, representing the collective loss of 55,900 jobs since June 2019.

Further, unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County*** decreased from 11.6% in May 2020 to 7.6% in June 2020. The 7.6% unemployment rate represented 55,642 residents who have applied for jobless benefits. The Capital Area/Travis County unemployment rate rose above the overall Austin-Round Rock MSA rate and remained below the state of Texas and national rates. Approximately 75 percent of our unemployed residents previously earned less than $50,000 per year.

The unemployment rate calculates those area residents who have filed an unemployment benefits claim to the workforce system. Those residents currently receive state unemployment benefits, ranging from $69 to $521 per week, depending on the applicant’s former income. Additionally, jobless claimants receive the $600 per week Congressionally-authorized Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program benefit.

Several significant changes are upcoming:

  • On July 25, the $600 per week FPUC stipend will end, unless Congress and the White House extends it. ◦With the scheduled end of FPUC benefits, unemployment benefits will decrease for approximately 75 percent of the local jobless.
    • After July 25, Workforce Solutions Capital Area expects an increase in job seekers and demand for job matching and training support services.
  • Amid a current four-fold increase in demand for reemployment services, the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) program — one of Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s most prominent federal funding sources — is scheduled to be reduced by 15% on October 1, 2020, in about three months.

“With high levels of unemployment and relatively few job openings, there’s also a cut in take-home pay coming for approximately 75 percent of Austinites,” Atkinson said. “While many people in Travis County are still seeking work or training opportunities at a volume much higher than before the pandemic – with many more to come – our financial resources are scheduled to be further stretched.”

The WIOA employment program, offered at no cost for participants, is designed to give job seekers personalized support and training needed to find a job. Funding, determined by Congressional formulas, will be cut 15.1 percent for the 2021 fiscal year.

“Federal funding for job training is determined by our region’s economic health between June 2018 to July 2019, when Austin was in full employment,” Atkinson said. “Our federal funding does not take into account the current pandemic and work necessary for workforce boards and communities to create a stronger, safer, smarter workforce.”

To ensure trainees find jobs, WIOA provides funding for training in occupations with proven earning potential in growing industries in Travis County, such as auto mechanics, computer support specialists, and nurses. WIOA-funded training is provided by a wide variety of certified training providers in Travis County.

“Low-income adult workers and dislocated workers living in Travis County, who are usually

Workforce Solutions Supporting Austin’s Workforce as Unemployment Dips to 11.4% in May 2020

The Austin-Round Rock region has experienced an annual growth rate of -7.7%, representing the collective loss of 86,300 jobs since May 2019.

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AUSTIN – Figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission today show the unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock MSA* decreased from 12.2% in April 2020 to 11.4% in May. The 11.4% unemployment rate represented 132,803 residents seeking jobless benefits. The region’s unemployment rate remained below both the Texas (12.7%)** and national (13%)** rates.

The Austin-Round Rock region has experienced an annual growth rate of -7.7%, representing the collective loss of 86,300 jobs since May 2019.

Further, unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County*** decreased from 12.4% in April 2020 to 11.6% in May. The 11.6% unemployment rate represented 81,466 residents who have applied for jobless benefits. The Capital Area/Travis County unemployment rate rose above the overall Austin-Round Rock MSA rate but remained below the state of Texas and national rates.

From March 1 to May 31, nearly half of those seeking jobless benefits were previously in food prep and serving occupations (22 percent), sales and related occupations (14 percent), and personal care and service occupations (eight percent), according to Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

While the unemployment rate in Austin/Travis County appears to have begun tapering down, the overall rate is significantly high when viewed historically.

During the Great Recession, there were roughly 49,000 unemployment claimants in Austin/Travis County from September 2008 to August 2009, according to Workforce Solutions Capital Area. In the first three months of the current pandemic, over 116,000 residents sought jobless benefits, including typically ineligible gig and contract workers who have applied for jobless benefits.

“Layoffs in Texas appear to have begun receding, but many people in Travis County are still seeking work or training opportunities at a volume much higher than before the pandemic,” said Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “Workforce Solutions is here by phone, email, and in-person to connect you to jobs you are interested in, quality job training, and child care so you can have more options.”

Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s three career centers across Austin are gradually reopening to serve residents and businesses impacted by economic changes caused by COVID-19. The North and East centers reopened by appointment only on June 15 and the South center will reopen by appointment only on June 22.

“Reopening by appointment only means we are continuing to support our community during the pandemic and doing so in a personal and safe way,” said Melanie Flowers, Chair of the Board of Directors for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “We connect local people to local jobs—by phone and email or by six feet apart in our centers.”

To understand the real-time needs of the community and refine support services for the jobless, Workforce Solutions Capital Area is surveying all unemployment benefits recipients in Travis County to learn more about their current situation and plans to return to the workforce. According to survey responses collected in May and June, 75 percent of respondents said they are looking for employment, 61 percent said they are interested in retraining to a new career, and 90 percent indicated they have the tools to learn or work from home.

“Workforce Solutions Capital Area will be there to help Austin’s impacted workers navigate through this new world of work,” said Atkinson. “We will continue to work with our partners to drive the change needed to make Austin's workforce smarter, stronger, safer, and higher-earning.”

November 2019 Labor Market Update

Austin-Area Unemployment Lowest in 19 Years

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AUSTIN – Figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission today show the unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock MSA dropped from 2.6% in October 2019 to 2.5% in November 2019. The 2.5% unemployment rate represented 31,359 residents seeking employment. The region’s unemployment rate remained below both the Texas (3.3%) and national (3.3%) rates.

The Austin-Round Rock MSA collectively added 3,800 jobs in November 2019. The region’s 2.7% annual growth rate represented the collective addition of 29,000 jobs since November 2018.

Further, unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County remained at 2.4% from October 2019 to November 2019. The 2.4% unemployment rate represented 18,067 residents seeking employment. The Capital Area/Travis County unemployment rate remained below the overall Austin-Round Rock MSA, state of Texas and national rates.

July 2019 Labor Market Update

Austin-Area Unemployment Approaching 3.0% in July

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AUSTIN – Figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission today show the unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock MSA* increased from 2.7% in June 2019 to 2.9% in July 2019. The 2.9% unemployment rate represented 34,963 residents seeking employment. The region’s unemployment rate remained below both the Texas (3.7%)** and national (4.0%)** rates.

Despite the collective loss of 7,600 jobs in the Austin-Round Rock MSA in July 2019, the region’s overall 2.3% annual growth rate represented the collective addition of 24,400 jobs since July 2018.

Further, unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County*** increased from 2.6% in June 2019 to 2.8% in July 2019. The 2.8% unemployment rate represented 20,227 residents seeking employment. The Capital Area/Travis County unemployment rate remained below the overall Austin-Round Rock MSA, state of Texas and national rates.

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Workforce Solutions Capital Area is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Program. Auxiliary aids and services are available, upon request, to persons with disabilities. Relay Texas: 1.800.735.2989 (TDD) / 711 (Voice).

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