3-minute read

Good afternoon Austin friends and allies,

Nine plus months into the pandemic, Austin area unemployment is still 2x pre-COVID levels. TWC today reported Austin MSA’s November unemployment rose to 5.9%, representing 74,345 jobless residents. More and more of our neighbors are being impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout, with expanded federal unemployment benefits expiring in a week.

What’s happening in the Austin metro job market:

  • A second stimulus package that could provide some economic relief from the COVID crisis is in development. However, Congressional leaders have yet to reach an agreement.
  • Under current law, expanded unemployment insurance (i.e., PUA, PEUC) provided through the CARES Act is due to expire on Dec 26, meaning workers who have exhausted their regular benefits or are not typically eligible for unemployment benefits will no longer receive payments.
  • Elon Musk’s The Boring Co. grabs industrial space in Pflugerville, documents show.
  • After Oracle announced its HQ move to Austin, India’s largest IT service, Tata Consultancy, announced plans to hire 130 new employees in Austin and 1,000 new employees across Texas.
  • Austin will likely continue to be among the top destinations for technology companies leaving the Silicon Valley, a trend that has increased in recent months amid the pandemic, experts say.
  • Meanwhile, Austin companies are still hiring, although less than a year ago (more below).

In partnership, Tamara.


Austin unemployment rate rises to 5.9% in November 2020, as job postings continue to lag behind 2019 levels

Bad news: According to the latest figures released by TWC on 12/18, the unemployment rate for Texas (8%) worsened,dropping below the national unemployment rate (6.4%).

  • November unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis Co rose from 5.1% in October to 5.9% in November, representing 44,831 jobless residents.
  • The overall November Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is at 5.9% or 74,345 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 the monthly unemployment rates.
  • Read more in our Newsroom.

What they’re saying:

  • Melanie Flowers, board chair at Workforce Solutions Capital Area: “We are here in person, by phone or by email, to assist local people with completing their job searches and securing employment with local businesses. We will continue to engage people to offer support with training for in-demand jobs, providing safe care for children, and much more to strengthen opportunities for families in Travis County.”

Good news: Austin is enjoying job expansion and diversification of the local economy thanks to relocating companies like BAE, Tesla, Oracle, and Tata.

  • With this will come the need to train Austinites previously in struggling industries to be prepared for these great new opportunities.
  • Outreach and enrollment continue for Phase 1 of the RE:WorkNOW initiative. We are reaching out to tens of thousands of jobless Travis County residents via earned media, radio, email, digital media, and video to help them rapidly link to a diverse range of fast-track, no-cost training programs. 

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.

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

  • New unemployment claims decreased from October, with 4,853 (-501)approved claims in November 2020.
  • Jobs are still being posted, but fewer are available than a year ago:
    • 21,945 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA in November 2020 (-2,063 from November 2019).
    • Job postings decreased -27.5% when comparing the last week of November with pre-COVID January 2020.
    • 7,412 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA for the first half of December 2020 (-2,756 compared to the same period in 2019).
  • 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 hiring companies were UT (291), Ascension Health (284), Hospital Corporation of America (279), IBM (210), and Baylor Scott and White (189).
    • Top occupations in the most in-demand sectors, targeted in Austin’s Community Workforce Plan, were registered nurses (813), software developers (584), heavy and tractor trailer drivers (250), LVN’s (177),and general maintenance and repair workers (171).
  • 5 job fairs held by WFS in November, attended by 1,078 job seekers and 175 employers promoting 703 real-time job openings.


Help rebuild Austin’s workforce — take the Upskilling Survey today!

With the impacts of COVID-19, it is becoming more challenging for companies to hire, maintain, and develop their workforce. But for our local economy to thrive, Austin must hire local and grow their employees.

  • Strategies like upskilling provide a pathway for long-term economic growth for individuals, industry, and the region.
  • By understanding existing upskilling efforts in our region, we can demonstrate return on investment and advocate for additional funding to support your efforts.

Whether your company already upskills, or you want to add upskilling to your talent solutions toolkit, your company can be recognized for contributing to the regional goal.

📝 Take the Upskilling Survey today!

  • Please complete this survey to help improve community efforts to support and effect local change and receive recognition for your contribution to help rebuild Austin.
  • To learn more about the Upskilling Survey, visit the microsite, or you can reach out to me with any questions.

Worth your time: Watch the latest American Graduate episode from our friends at Austin PBS.

  • Hear about upskilling options across career pathways with one example from Austin Western Railroad, a 2020 Upskilling HERO.
  • Special shout out to WFS board member Sabari Raja, co-founder at CEO at Nepris, also featured!
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