3-minute read

Good afternoon Austin friends and allies,

What’s happening in the Austin metro job market:

  • While many new jobs have arrived or at least been announced in Central Texas during the pandemic, Austin has still felt an economic hit. See our November labor market report here.
  • KVUE reported in November that Austin lost 1,685 businesses – including 81 bars, 66 restaurants, and 43 retailers – during the pandemic. Surrounding Austin suburbs also took a hit: Round Rock lost 1,032 businesses, and Pflugerville lost 944.
  • The bright side: U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show Texas has fared better overall than most states when it comes to businesses as a whole, showing a 15.18% closure rate from government mandates. The rate was closer to 19% across the country. 
  • Austin Chamber said in November that 35 newly located companies — including Tesla — have announced 9,790 jobs in Austin so far this year. That jobs number breaks the previous record set in 2018 when 46 companies announced 9,424 jobs. 
  • TWC encourages unemployment claimants to utilize employment resources such as Workforce Solutions Centers for people seeking jobs.
  • But even though there are prominent success stories, preparing millions of displaced workers for the post-pandemic economy won’t be possible without massive federal investment, experts say.
  • The RE:WorkNOW initiative, developed by Workforce Solutions Capital Area with City and County backing, continues enrollment and outreach to offer scholarships for safe, rapid training in virtual or hybrid formats for high-demand jobs at better wages (more below).

ICYMI: Congratulations to Susan Dawson, E3 Alliance founder and WFS board member, for her well-deserved recognition as 2020 Austinite of the Year(more below)!

🙏 Also, thanks to everyone that made our “Workshop Wednesday: College Preparation Night” a success, an eventwith partners Foundation Communities Prosper Centers and Ascension Seton. We’re incredibly thankful for the generous donation from our friends at Trellis Foundation that allowed usto offer four $500 scholarships to selected attendees!

In partnership, Tamara.


‘I would absolutely recommend this, especially for women’: Austinites are gaining skills and launching careers as electricians, at no cost

Electrician is an occupation growing in demand in Austinwith an average entry-level hourly wage of $16.55.To help connect residents interested in the skilled trades, we joined Lone Star Construction Trades Training to host a five-day, 40-hour pre-apprenticeship class from Nov 30 to Dec 4 at the Austin Electrical Training Alliance.

  • Lone Star provides no-cost hands-on training for women seeking a career in the construction trades.
  • They are a 501(c)3 owned and operated by Darci Brennan and Rebecca Young, both Journeymen electricians with over 48 years of electrical trade experience.
  • In the class, students first learnabout safety, basic tools, and circuity and later tackle more complex installations like four-way switches, dimmers, and lighted receptacles.
  • Graduates earn a certificate from Lone Star, as well as their Texas apprenticeship license and their OSHA 10 license (paid for by Lone Star).
  • For a graduation gift, the students receive bags of tools, making them ready to begin working.

What they’re saying: 

  • Spectra Stewart learned about the class from a friend: “I would absolutely recommend this, especially for women.”
  • Amy Jordan is currently working as a restaurant manager but seeking a new career path: “I took a week off work and I don’t have to pay out of pocket. It’s important that Workforce Solutions wants to fund this training, and it’s such an honor to do this.”
  • Rebecca Young, Director and Electrical Instructor at Lone Star CTT: “When you have your electrical license, you can go anywhere. You have that freedom and skills that no one can take away from you. Women can do this, and it is an amazing trade to be in.”
  • Go deeper: Read more perspectives in our blog.

What’s next: Lone Star will host another class in Austin from Jan 25-29, 2021.


With Pandemic Unemployment Assistance set to end soon, WFS joins Austin Texas Musicians, Congressman Lloyd Doggett to talk what’s next

With PUA Benefits projected to end after December, musicians are left in a very uncertain place. On Thursday, WFS’s Robin Spilman joined Austin Texas Musicians and Congressman Lloyd Doggett to help local musicians out-of-work connect to in-demand jobs and employment supports.

Why it matters: On Dec 31, hundreds of thousands of Texans will lose unemployment benefits that were extended and expanded during the coronavirus pandemic through the CARES Act.

  • Workers who have exhausted their regular benefits or are not typically eligible for unemployment benefits (like gig and contract workers) will no longer receive payments.
  • Congress is struggling to reach a consensus on another round of coronavirus relief as unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium are set to expire.
  • On Wednesday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives decided to extend their negotiations for new legislation into this week. Lawmakers (and us) hope this will give them more time to come to agreements on emergency economic relief.

What we talked about: RE:WorkNOW is a new rapid training program for City of Austin and Travis County residents, powered by Workforce Solutions Capital Area with financial backing from the City of Austin and Travis County.

  • This effort will provide 260 scholarships to jobless residents for no-cost, rapid, safe job training.
  • Enrollees may be eligible to receive weekly education stipends,career advising, and placement through WFS. Childcare, transportation, and digital inclusion will also be provided as needed. 
  • Participating training providers expanded rapid training programs in both virtual and hybrid formats with support from WFS. Courses can take as little as four weeks, are aligned with industry expectations, and will result in better jobs at better wages.
  • On the RE:WorkNow Access Hubunemployed or underemployed residents can answer a few questions and digitally connect to rapid training programs in their area of interest.
    • Space is limited, and enrollment into the approved courses is handled first come, first served.

▶️ Watch the full video here (starts at 29:42).

How you can help: Please use our RE:WorkNOW Brand Kit to help spread the word about our no-cost, safe, and rapid training opportunities. Please reply to me here with any questions or requests.


E3 Alliance founder and WFS board member Susan Dawson is chamber’s Austinite of the Year

For work with the business community, the local economy, and the educational system, Austin Chamber has named Susan Dawson its Austinite of the Year for 2020. The award is the chamber’s highest annual honor.

  • Susan is president and founder of E3 Alliance, a regional collaborative that works to increase educational equality.
  • Along with currently serving on WFS’s board, Susan has also worked with Leadership Austin, Children’s Optimal Health, American Youthworks, and Austin Partners in Education. 
  • Susan joins past winners including the late Gov. Ann Richards, civic leader and former state Rep. Wilhelmina Delco, and former Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

What they’re saying:

  • Craig Enoch, Austin Chamber board chair: “Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to serving our business community, transforming the economy, and reshaping our education system.”
  • Susan Dawson: “I think often people see business and community in two separate spheres. I don’t see that. People who work in business are part of the community and the workforce that runs businesses are community members and they are completely intertwined. But often we talk about them as separate sectors with separate drivers. It doesn’t need to be and often it doesn’t exist that way.”

Read more about Susan’s incredible work for the Austin community here.

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