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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.

Jameson Cardenas 0 0 Article rating: No rating

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.”

Virtual Youth Career Expo to Connect Young Job Seekers with Hiring Employers

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GREATER AUSTIN REGION – Central Texans ages 16 to 24 can connect virtually with more than 60 employers on June 17 to explore career and training opportunities in 10 counties at the first Central Texas Virtual Youth Career Expo, hosted by Workforce Solutions Capital Area and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area.

Job seekers can register here: http://bit.ly/wsrcavirtualcareerexpo

The virtual expo will highlight industries with in-demand occupations across Central Texas, including healthcare, hospitality, retail, food service, and skilled trades and manufacturing. Employers will showcase part-time, full-time and apprenticeship opportunities from their interactive booths and share downloadable content for job seekers.

During the expo, job seekers will engage with hiring employers via video chat. Young Central Texans can learn about skills valued by hiring businesses at workshops facilitated by employers and during live career-enhancement presentations by Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area’s Youth Talent Development team.

The expo will also feature prerecorded videos highlighting relevant topics such as interviewing skills, how to write a resume, time management, and more. Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s team of Workforce Career and Education Outreach Specialists, who serve students across five school districts in Travis County, produced the videos. The team of specialists will also attend to engage with young residents to discuss additional assistance offered by Workforce Solutions programs, such as child care or transportation.

The Central Texas Virtual Youth Career Expo is a safe and practical opportunity for young residents to explore or launch careers in productive occupations as the Texas economy is reopening and Texans are returning to work.

“Our virtual expo safely connects our region’s employers with their future workforce now,” said Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “Virtual events like this help us to lift Texans out of poverty and achieve the objective of the Austin Metro Area Master Community Workforce Plan created by our community.”

“We’re excited to join with our partners at Workforce Solutions Capital Area, to host this wonderful event, to help local employers build workforce pipelines for their businesses, and empower our region’s youth to find workforce and up-skilling solutions in their own communities,” said Paul Fletcher, Chief Executive Officer for Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area. “Together we’re building a world-class workforce, comprised of talented Texans of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, who will help our state continue to compete at a global level.”

Employers can register for an interactive booth at https://ruralcapitalarea.getyourbooth.com.

Central Texas Manufacturing Partnership to Offer 20 Skilled Training Scholarships in June

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AUSTIN – Members of the Central Texas Manufacturing Partnership are offering area residents two new skills training opportunities with top regional training providers in the semiconductor and general manufacturing industries. Austin Community College (ACC) and Skillpoint Alliance are each launching trainings programs in June 2020 to equip individuals with a Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential from the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC).

Travis County residents can apply to one or both of the 5‐7 week training programs beginning next month. Due to the ongoing effects of COVID‐19, both training programs will begin with virtual classes followed by a one‐week lab session in the final week. Individuals interested in the ACC program can call Workforce Solutions Capital Area (WFCA) at 512‐597‐ 7224 or email at dave.moss@wfscapitalarea.com. Individuals interested in the Skillpoint Alliance training program can call 512‐729‐4923 or email at admissions@skillpointalliance.org.

These new training programs have been in development since December 2019 when business leaders of Applied Materials, Inc., Austin Regional Manufacturers Association (ARMA), NXP, and Samsung Austin Semiconductor urged action due to an increasing need for more skilled manufacturing workers. A manufacturing partnership grew from this need that includes multiple staffing partners and training organizations. Funding provided by Workforce Solutions Capital Area and the Texas Talent Connection (Skillpoint Alliance’s funding source) made it possible for these regional industry leaders to come together in an unprecedented collaboration to transform these training programs to meet the skills requirements of the industry.

Despite many businesses closing due to shelter‐in‐place precautions, many manufacturers are able to continue operations to meet vital government and commercial needs. ARMA Executive Director Ed Latson explains, “Manufacturers in Central Texas are resilient and hiring. This is an excellent opportunity for people seeking a meaningful career.”

Workforce Solutions Helping Austin’s Employers and Workers Navigate Recovery as Unemployment Rises to 12.2% in April 2020

Austin-Round Rock region experienced annual growth rate of -9.1%, representing the collective loss of 100,500 jobs since April 2019

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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 3.8% in March 2020 to 12.2% in April 2020. The 12.2% unemployment rate represented 138,089 residents seeking jobless benefits. The region’s unemployment rate remained below both the Texas (13.0%) and national (14.4%) rates.

Further, unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County rose from 3.7% in March 2020 to 12.4% in April 2020. The 12.4% unemployment rate represented 84,222 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.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area is providing assistance to affected residents and businesses while the COVID-19 health crisis impacts our region’s economy.

“We are the first responders for employment during this disaster,” said Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “We are here to help Travis County return to work, by assisting impacted workers to find a job or businesses to keep their doors open.”

“Our plan to support our community through this crisis now focuses on recovery,” said Melanie Flowers, Chair of the Board of Directors for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “Workforce Solutions is helping businesses navigate re-opening and helping our workforce understand about both employment and virtual education opportunities.”

Residents seeking assistance can contact us at 512.549.4967 or visit www.wfscapitalarea.com. Workforce Solutions stands with Austin and offers many resources, including:

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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).

Equal Opportunity is the Law