3-minute read

Good afternoon Austin friends and allies,

What’s happening in the Austin metro job market:

  • TWC’s latest report showed improvement in the Austin region’s unemployment rate month-over-month, although a lagging indicator. The surge in COVID-19 infections may impact November’s labor market picture. 
  • In a recent report from the Federal Reserve gauging economic recovery in the fall, many US firms “cited concerns over the recent pandemic wave, mandated restrictions (recent and prospective), and the looming expiration dates for unemployment benefits and for moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.”
  • Lawmakers released a blitz of competing coronavirus relief proposals Tuesday, reigniting stalled talks as the pandemic surges. However, there are no clear signs that Congress would be able to reach a consensus before Christmas. But let’s hope they do.
  • A new bipartisan group from the House and Senate unveiled a $908B compromise proposal, offering one route between House Democrats’ last $2.4T bill and Senate Republicans’ recent $650B proposal. This proposal’s measures would include $160B in state and local funding and $180B in additional unemployment insurance, including $300/week stipends through March.
  • Under current law, expanded unemployment insurance (i.e., PUA, PEUC) provided through the CARES Act is due to expire on Dec 31, meaning workers who have exhausted their regular benefits or are not typically eligible for unemployment benefits will no longer receive payments.
  • WFS will continue to help Texans find work through our array of services, including training programs, career exploration, and child care for low-income families.
  • Outreach and enrollment continue for Phase 1 of the RE:WorkNOW initiative. Two new participating training providers (Central Texas Allied Health Institute and edOpp Solutions) have expanded their rapid training programs in both remote and hybrid settings with support from WFS. 

ICYMI: See last week’s report with some of our Workforce Solutions-funded training success stories of 2020.

📅 Also, we hope you’ll join our friends at the Austin Urban Technology Movement for 12 Days of AUTMFor 12 days straight, AUTM will host events and programming supporting digital equity and being self-sustaining in today’s tech industry.See the flyer here.

In partnership, Tamara.


How Austin’s unemployment compares to major state, national metros

According to TWC’s most recent report, Austin metro’s October unemployment rate is lowest among Texas’ major metros at 5.1%.

  • Texas’ October unemployment rate stands at 6.7%.
  • The highest October unemployment rate among the major Texas metros is Houston/Woodlands/Sugarland at 7.7%. The second-lowest is Dallas/Ft. Worth/Arlington at 6.1%. 
  • Compared nationally to regions that the Austin metro typically competes with for major economic development projects, we are better than some, but not all, metro areas. 
  • Yes, and: Austin’s 1.9% year-over-year job lossis more moderate than the declines seen in all other major metros.
    • That decline was tied with Salt Lake City for the smallest among the 50 largest metros in the US.

Go deeper: See the comparisons on our blog.

Austin/Travis County November jobs by the numbers:

  • Lots of jobs are being posted, but fewer are available than a year ago: 
    • 21,945 job ads were posted in the Austin metro for the whole month of November 2020 (-2,063 from November 2019).
    • Job postings decreased -27.5% when comparing the last week of November with pre-COVID January 2020 (via Opportunity Insight).
  • Job openings are wide-ranging:
    • In November, the region’s top hiring occupation groups were in IT (3,204), management (2.564), sales and related (2,413), healthcare practitioners and technical (2,042), and office and administrative (2,021).
    • Top certifications in-demand wereDriver’s License (2,371), RN (809), First Aid/CPR (364), Basic Life Saving (262), and Food Handler Certification (228).
    • Top occupations in the most in-demand sectors, targeted in Austin’s Community Workforce Plan, wereRNs (813), software developers (584), heavy and tractor trailer drivers (250), LVNs (177), and general maintenance and repair workers (171).
  • WFS held 5 job fairs in November attended by 1,078 job seekers and 175 employers promoting 703 real-time job openings.

The bottom line: Most of the open jobs require training, but many of the long-term unemployed lack those skills.

  • There is still much hesitancy in the market about enrollment into rapid training programs for new career fields. No one else fills that role like a local workforce board.   

Worth your time: The New York Times published an article on how communities are reinventing workers for the post-COVID economy.

  • The big picture: Especially in face-to-face service industries, old jobs may not be coming back completely. Training programs are aiming to provide skills for more resilient occupations.
  • Meanwhile: Outreach and enrollment continue for Phase 1 of RE:WorkNOW initiative, a new rapid training program for City of Austin and Travis County residents, powered by WFS with financial backing from the City of Austin and Travis County.
    • On the RE:WorkNow Access Hub, unemployed or underemployed residents can answer a few questions and digitally connect to training programs in their area of interest with tons of supports available.


‘We are forever grateful for your support and generosity’: WFS and Bank of America donate cleaning and PPE supplies to child care providers in Travis County

As the foremost local, public funder of childcare, WFS hosted two curbside pickup events for child care providers in the Austin metro area to receive PPE and cleaning supplies at no cost on November 20 and 21 at the First Workers Day Labor Center in Austin.

  • As the pandemic continues, the importance of creating safe and nurturing spaces for the children of working parents in Austin becomes more apparent. Many providers have limited resources but seek to continue offering care. 
  • We want our providers to stay in business and for working parents to feel assured their children are being nurtured and taught in a safe environment.

Our curbside pickup events by the numbers:

  • 250,000 face masks were donated by Bank of America for child care providers at this event, contributing to the safe care of our children.
  • Over the two days,5 truckloads of PPE and cleaning supplies were delivered. WFS distributed 5,400 items, or 24,176 pounds of goods.
  • 181 providers — caring for 7,074 children across Travis County — picked up pallets of supplies, including hand soap and sanitizer, gloves and paper towels, bath tissue, and bleach. 

What they’re saying:

  • Nikki Graham, market president for Bank of America, Austin (via Twitter): “Front-line workers need masks when working to help combat coronavirus. Glad that @bankofamerica is working with @wfscapitalarea to distribute masks to #ATX childcare providers.”
  • Stacy Jo Signaigo is the early childhood director for Manor ISD. She works at Manor ISD Child Development Center, which cares for 65 children. 
    • “I was very excited to hear about [this] event. It’s very hard to find supplies for child care, so these supplies really help because everybody is out of them for the quantities we need.”
  • Patsy Harnage is the owner and director of Bright Beginnings Child Development Center in North Austin. Her center cares for 60 children.
    • “I want to thank Workforce Solutions Capital Area and Bank of America for lightening the burden we are experiencing from limited supplies. We are forever grateful for your support and generosity.”

Read more on our blog.

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