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