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Good afternoon Austin friends and supporters,

The latest unemployment figures confirm its tough out there for Central Texas families. Earlier, TWC reported Austin’s September unemployment rate rose to 6.4%, representing 80,838 jobless residents. We have a long way to go to ensure all of us are connecting to fulfilling and engaging work.

The latest:

  • The early part of the recession was characterized by temporary layoffs, or furloughs. But permanent job loss is rising.
    • We saw an 85% spike in Travis County benefits claimants whose layoff was permanent comparing August to the month prior.
  • The Governor allowed for bars to reopen to 50%, but they’ll remain closed in Travis County for at least two more weeks because of a local increase in coronavirus hospitalizations.
  • 80,000 Central Texans still out of a job may go without further government supports for the rest of the year unless lawmakers agree on a stimulus deal. Although facts can change quickly on the ground, the odds are low that a new stimulus will get signed before Nov 3 election day.
  • We remain hopeful lawmakers will come together with plans that can help those in need 1) support themselves and 2) get skills for employment in growing sectors of the economy.

What’s next: In a chaotic economy and amid continued uncertainty at the federal level, WFS is here to help people in a struggling sector get the supports they need to train into other growing sectors. We are swiftly working on launching the first phase of our rapid retraining program, which aims to enroll at least 260 low-income Austinites who are unemployed due to COVID-19 into safe, fast-track training opportunities by year-end. We’ll share more progress in the coming weeks as we move as quickly as possible to identify those in poverty who need help, guide them in enrolling in a rapid training program, and offer subsidized, high-quality child care and more supports and services as they need them. In partnership, Tamara

In partnership, Tamara


Austin unemployment rate rises to 6.4% in September 2020, as job postings continue to lag behind 2019 levels

Bad news: According to the latest figures released by TWC on 10/16, the unemployment rate for Texas (8.3%) rose above the national unemployment rate (7.7%).

  • September unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis Co increased from 5.7% in August to 6.6% in September, representing 49,706jobless residents.
  • The overall September Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is slightly lower at 6.4% or 80,838 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.

On our radar: An increasing number of individuals relying on extended benefits suggests that many residents are experiencing long spells of unemployment.

  • What’s worse: The extended-benefits program is set to expire at the end of this year.
  • An analysis of local long-term unemployment to come in the next few weeks.

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 August, with 7,562 (-1,283)approved claims in September 2020.
  • Jobs are still being posts, but less are available than a year ago:
    • 24,385 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA in September 2020 (-2,420 from September 2019).
    • Job postings decreased -25.3% when comparing the second week of October with pre-COVID January 2020.
    • 9,761 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA from October 1-13, 2020 (-780 compared to the same period in 2019).
  • Job openings are wide-ranging:
    • The region’s top hiring occupation groups in ​September were in IT (3,321), sales and related (2,953), management (2,752), office and admin support (2,583), and healthcare practitioners and technical (1,976).
    • Top hiring companies were Hospital Corporation of America (316),Ascension Health (308), Amazon (289),University of Texas (264),and IBM (235).
  • 3,000+ positions have been posted to WFS’ Jobs Now board since the pandemic began, from retail bank tellers to warehouse loaders to cloud-computing engineers. We verify these are open positions with local companies that are ready to hire.
  • 7 job fairs held by WFS in September attended by 879 job seekers and 79 employers promoting415 real-time job openings.
  • 5 workforce boards (Capital Area, Rural Capital, Alamo, Central Texas, and Heart of Texas) are banding together to host Hiring Red, White & You: Warrior Welcome Central Texasthe largest virtual hiring experience for veterans in the state.


Texas Workforce Commission to reinstate work search requirements for jobless claimants and parents in two weeks

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will reinstate required work searches starting Nov 1, which means no unemployment benefits unless you do at least three things each week that could lead to a job, and document it.I anticipate this policy change will dramatically increase the number of unemployed workers seeking their job matching and training services.

  • What this means for jobless Austinites: Austin residents receiving jobless benefits must complete three work searches per week to continue receiving benefits. 
    • TWC previously suspended this requirement in March due to the pandemic.
    • This change comes following the state’s continued re-openings of businesses, according to TWC. 
  • TWC additionally reinstated work requirements for parents receiving benefits through the child care assistance program.
    • WFS has 2,514 children on the waitlist (1,657 families).
    • We will start contacting parents on our waitlist in the coming days. We anticipate enrolling600 children over the next few months.  


WFS to co-host “How to Hire and Be Hired” virtual experience for aspiring Austin area business owners

WFS is honored to co-host a free virtual learning experience for Austin area entrepreneurs with the City of Austin Small & Minority Business Resources Department and Multi-Ethnic Chamber Alliance (Asian, Black, Hispanic, and LGBT chambers of commerce) on October 29 from 10am-3pm.

  • Why you should attend: Local business leaders will share insights on how to start and run a business. Job seekers — both young and seasoned — will be connected to local employers who are hiring now.
  • A big thank you to our special guests Mayor Adler and TWC Commissioner Aaron Demerson. They will be sharing words with aspiring Austin area business leaders on the event day.

How you can help:

  • Employers can register for a free virtual booth hereFeel free to reply to me here with any questions.
  • Please help us spread the word by sharing our registration links with job seekers and employers.
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