2-minute read

Good morning,

Our survey of 1,488 jobless Austinites — with four out of 10 previously working in the hard-hit hospitality and retail sectors — revealed 70% expect to return to their previous occupations. More recently, economists predict that only 58% of laid-off workers are likely to return to the job they held pre-COVID. We are looking at resetting our survey timeframe to a narrower focus for future reports. Still, 68% of unemployed Austinites say they’re interested in career retraining into high-growth industries like IT (30%), healthcare (20%), and manufacturing (8%). Of the 30% of respondents who do not expect to go back to their previous occupations, 82% expressed interest in retraining.

Since this ongoing pandemic began, WFS has been on the ground, working across sectors to provide immediate mitigation while developing longer-term recovery plans, driven by the voices of impacted workers and industry leaders.

Since this ongoing pandemic began, WFS has been on the ground, working across sectors to provide immediate mitigation while developing longer-term recovery plans, driven by the voices of impacted workers and industry leaders. And with the recent expiration of the federal unemployment supplement, we continue our work to help Austinites find work right away — whether a new job in their current industry or a drastically subsidized rapid training for a career in an in-demand industry. And since people need childcare to go back to work or receive training, we help eligible parents apply for childcare assistance and other critical supports.

Below, you’ll find how the proposed HEALS and HEROES Acts would impact jobless Texans, and our latest collaborations and trainings. Please let me know if you have any questions.

In partnership, Tamara 


How the initial Senate Republican stimulus package proposal would impact Texas’ jobless

The Senate Republicans’ proposed HEALS Act offers a $200/wk federal pandemic stipend through September, lower than the $600/wk pandemic stipend, which expired on July 25. After that, the HEALS pandemic stipend proposal would go up to $500/wk to provide 70% of a claimant’s lost wages when added to state benefits.

  • For comparison, Texas’ state benefits replaced an average 43% of lost wages in the first quarter of 2020, according to the Labor Department.
    • Texas’ standard unemployment payments can range from $69-$521 per week, depend on an applicant’s former income.
  • Due to the $500 stipend limitation, wage replacement would begin to drop below 70% for unemployed Texas workers who made more than $76,000/yr.

How does that affect, say, the average bartender?

  • Lower-income earners would not fare as well as they did with the previous $600 per week stipend.
    • For example, the average bartender, who makes about $13.50 an hour, would make just $378 a week from unemployment under Senate Republicans’ 70% plan. 
    • Under the previous policy, if this worker were collecting the average Texas state unemployment benefit ($246 a week), on top of the expired $600/wk stipend, they would take home about $846 a week — more than twice the amount of the proposed plan.
    • According to WFS data, 82% of jobless claimants made more on unemployment under the previous policy.
  • Without a new law, experts expect the demand for WFS services— job matching and training support — to surge beginning Monday.


How the House’s HEROES Act would impact Texas’ jobless

The House’s HEROES Act, proposed in May, would provide for the extension of the CARES Act’s $600/wk enhanced unemployment benefit through January 2021. 

  • However, this plan hasn’t been taken up by the Senate in any way.
  • Due to the critical differences between the HEROES and HEALS Acts, negotiations between the White House, Senate, and House leadership have been ongoing since Monday. Because the extra unemployment benefits have effectively ended, time is of the essence. 
  • WFS is working with elected officials on rapid approaches for the Austin area to help its lower-income population use this “downtime” to plug into an effective training ecosystem.
    • Through these approaches, impacted workers would receive guidance, fast track training, and job placement to ensure 2021 is much better financially.

Reality check:

  • A recent study that polled nearly 2,000 Americans found that 31.5% could not live without the enhanced unemployment checks for more than a month.
    • It also revealed that the most vulnerable workers — those earning less than $15,000/yr — were the most likely to lose their entire income compared to those who make more.
    • In Travis Co, 50% of jobless claimants previously earned less than $30,000/yr. 78% earned less than $50,000/yr.

What else:

  • TWC will continue to suspend the “work search” requirement for those on unemployment benefits as Texas continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19.
    • Leaders at the state agency have said they will follow the Governor’s lead and may reimplement the requirement once the economy is able to reopen at a greater capacity.
    • WFS anticipates an additional increase in demand for our services from this policy change.


WFS works to help ‘tidal wave of job seekers’ through community partnerships and career retraining opportunities

To all of our community partners, we thank you for your support and collaboration amid our collective COVID-19 response. Take a look at some of our recent — and upcoming — collaborations.

  • On August 4, WFS will join leaders from Austin Technology Council, TWC, and the City of Austin to get input from all sectors of the Central Texas economy to help shape the local tech talent pool to sustain the Austin tech ecosystem’s growth. 
    • Register here to provide your insight.
  • Central Texas Manufacturing Partnership is offering two new skills training opportunities throughAustin Community College (ACC)and Skillpoint Alliance to equip area residents with a Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential. 
    • The next CPT training — now offered online — begins August 10. Learn more here.
    • On Friday, we celebrated9 CPT graduates who earned their credentials in our second semiconductor manufacturing program through ACC.
  • In support ofAustinTexasMusicians.org, we’re hosting a Virtual Career Expo to help local gig workers find work-from-home positions on August 6.
  • WFS’ Director of Talent Pipeline Success Megan Elkins was interviewed by Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison’s on Talking with Tasha. Watch on Facebook.
  • Our Outreach Specialists hosted webinars exploring careers with Texas Assisted Living Association, Austin Water, and Amplify Credit Union. Watch on YouTube.
  • Last week, WFS discussed our COVID-19 response for Austin in the E Pluribus Unum and Brookings Metro Policy Center webinar Catalyzing Workforce Innovation: Strategies for Supporting the Tidal Wave of Job Seekers.

WFS by the numbers:

  • 40,000+ page views on our COVID-19 response webpages (for job seekers, employers, childcare, and students) since April.
  • $1.65M provided to employers for Skills Development Fund, Layoff Aversion, and Disaster Assistance.
    • WFS relief efforts are helping employers in a variety of sectors: healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and nonprofit.
    • To learn more or apply, download our info sheetor just shoot me a quick email of interest. 
  • 6 virtual career fairs to date, hosting 121 employers and 1,371 job seekers.
  • In 2 months: The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) program — one of WFS’s most prominent funding sources — is set to be reduced for FY21 by15.1%. WIOA was designed to give job seekers personalized support and training needed to find a job, offered at no cost to participants.
    • Federal funding for these services is determined by regional economic health from June 2018 to July 2019.
    • Low-income adult workers and laid-off workers living in Travis Co, who are usually eligible for WIOA and are most impacted by the pandemic, will be more so affected as our capacity to support them decreases.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email