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Good afternoon Austin friends,

TWC estimates the Austin-area unemployment rate rose to 5.4% in January 2021 (more below). This is double the unemployment rate of January 2020.

Austin is one of the fastest recovering metros in the nation, and we are hopeful for our community. Still, many of our neighbors continue to weather disruption brought on by the pandemic. Businesses in healthcare, manufacturing, skilled trades, and IT are hiring now and Workforce Solutions can connect motivated job seekers to new career opportunities with local employers. For residents looking to adapt to changes in 2021, Workforce Solutions is here to help you with sponsored training, career prep, and many other support services. One call to us can get you or your constituents started.

What’s happening in the U.S. and our Austin metro job market:

  • Biden signed the $1.9T American Rescue Plan into law yesterday, extending a $300 weekly federal boost to unemployment benefits and two key pandemic unemployment programs(more below)
  • But the Congressional stimulus bill does not include dedicated funds for workforce development despite being 2x the typical unemployment level, with many more people not counted as unemployed because they stopped looking for work.
  • Austin-area companies are still hiring and posting new open positions, although fewer new postings than a year ago. (more below)
  • Austin a national leader for corporate expansions. The Austin metro ranked sixth last year in the nation for total active capital projects with 84. When it came to pound-for-pound rankings, the Austin metro came in second with 43.2 projects per capita last year after Indianapolis.
  • Proportion on Samsung’s potential new investment: Austin Business Journal reports that Samsung Austin Semiconductor has invested $17B in its Austin operations over the past 25 years. “What they’re proposing for their next investment is another $17B,” said Laura Huffman, president and CEO of Austin Chamber. “That gives you a sense of the scope of the investment.”
  • Pflugerville Manufacturing Academy’s first cohort graduates: Pflugerville Community Development Corporation, along with workforce development partners, Austin Community College, and Workforce Solutions Capital Area, announced the first class of five has graduated from the program.
  • More Austin relocations: California-based manufacturer MDC Vacuum Products LLC is considering an investment of nearly $4.5 million as part of a plan that would create 90 jobs in Pflugerville.

📅 Over 900 students and job seekers registered for our first Workforce Wednesday webinar last weekto hear about our training opportunities and in-demand jobs in Austin! This month’s industry focus was healthcare, and we were joined by training partners Central Texas Allied Health Institute, Goodwill Career & Technical Academy, and EdOpp Solutions. We hold these webinars on the second Wednesday of every month, with each focused on a different key Austin industry. Register for April’s event focused on IT/tech.

In partnership, Tamara.


Austin unemployment rate rises to 5.4% in January 2021, as job postings continue to lag behind pre-pandemic levels

Bad news: According to updated employment estimates released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) today, the unemployment rate for Texas (7.3%) worsened, remaining above the national unemployment rate (6.8%).

  • January unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis Co rose from a revised 4.9% in December to 5.4% in January, representing 37,040 jobless residents.
  • The overall January Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is at 5.4% or 67,455 jobless residents.
  • Of note: Self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers typically ineligible for regular state unemployment (e.g., PUA claimants) are not counted in these monthly tallies.
  • See more in our Newsroom.

Austin/Travis County by the numbers:
Non-traditional claimants typically ineligible for unemployment benefits are represented in the below data.

  • New unemployment claims increased from December, with 7,358 (+2,210) approved claims in January 2021.
  • Jobs are still being posted, but fewer are available than a year ago:
    • 23,167 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA in January 2021 (-1,645 from January 2020).
    • 20,623 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA for February 2021 (-4,828 compared to the same period in 2020).
  • Job openings are wide-ranging:
    • The region’s top hiring occupation groups in January were in IT (3,063), management (2,913), sales and related (2,618) administrative & support (2,207), and healthcare practitioners and technical (2,024)
    • Top titles posted in job ads were sales associate (77), customer service rep (72), delivery driver (69), maintenance technician (56), and housekeeper (54). 
    • Top companies hiring were Baylor Scott and White (330), Ascension Health (284), Hospital Corporation of America (264),IBM(210), and University of Texas (182)
  • 4 job fairs held by WFS in January, attended by 3,357 job seekers and 144 employers promoting674 real-time job openings.


What the new federal stimulus means for Austin’s jobless

In the new stimulus plan signed by President Biden Thursday, the $300 per week federal unemployment payments are continued until September 6, augmenting state unemployment benefits. 

Notable inclusions:

  • Extra $300/week unemployment payments through September 6, 2021
  • Extension of two key pandemic unemployment programs for self-employed individuals, gig workers — who comprise a sizeable amount of our local workforce — and those who’ve exhausted their state benefits
  • $360B to state and local governments
    • $10B put toward infrastructure projects
  • $15B to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration
  • $25B for bars and restaurantsa provision also important to Austin’s live entertainment scene
  • Additional $7B in PPP with expanded eligibility
  • $39B for child care providers to help them stay open
  • Increased tax credits for families and certain low-income workers

Yes, but: If our Travis County neighbors want to use this time for help with job hunting, training for a new career, or connecting to support services, I encourage them to reach out to us at Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

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.


Companies come together to help Texans affected by the winter storm — including for job training

Many in Central Texas have gotten back to their feet in the aftermath of last month’s freezing winter weather. But needs persist in the community, especially with an extreme shortage in the supply of plumbers and other skilled tradespeople who can help with post-storm repairs. 

Driving the news: Austin Business Journal highlights several companies and organizations — including WFS, TWC, the City of Austin, Travis County, and our friends at Bank of America, Samsung, and Facebook — who are helping with continued local relief efforts.

  • WFS teamed with the city of Austin and Travis County to provide no-cost, fast-track training for eligible residents in certain trades. 
    • The RE:WorkNOW rapid training program offers courses that can take as little as four weeks and in fields such as skilled trades, manufacturing, healthcare, and IT.
  • Texas Workforce Commission is accepting applications for disaster unemployment assistance for anyone whose take-home pay was impacted by the storm. 
    • That includes those who lost their jobs as a result of the storm or who are self-employed and have been unable to work. Applications are due March 26.
  • Bank of America is donating $1.1M in Texas, including to Austin-based Foundation Communities for emergency-related and ongoing housing repair efforts to keep people in their homes.

What they’re saying:

  • Austin Mayor Steve Adler: “Plumbers and skilled trades remain essential for Austin continued recovery. The City of Austin’s partnership with groups like Workforce Solutions, Skillpoint Alliance, and our local chapter of the plumbers and pipefitters union is a great example of the type of community collaboration necessary for this recovery.
    • “I encourage residents to sign up to gain a new skill that will positively impact our city at-large.”
  • Nikki Graham, BofA Austin market president: “From the Rio Grande Valley to the Panhandle, this winter storm affected the entire state, including our 19,000 employees in Texas, and for many, the recovery is just beginning.”

Sang Sup Jeong, president of Samsung Austin Semiconductor: “We understand how the winter storm severely impacted our lives and our businesses and we want to help lift up those individuals and families who are in need.”

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