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Good afternoon – and happy National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)!

This month, Workforce Solutions Capital Area celebrates the skills, talents, and contributions of workers with disabilities in the 75thanniversary of NDEAM, and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We hope you’ll join us in the celebration by participating in our upcoming Texas HireAbility Job Fair (more below). Also, WFS applauds Austin City Council’s creation of the Austin Economic Development Corporation, which will come online during trying times for our community as business closures mount and longtime issues, such as affordability, are exacerbated by the pandemic. (And again, special thanks to the City of Austin and Travis County for their swift response to our workforce crisis, recently funding the first phase of “Make It Now,” which will rapidly retrain at least 260 low-income Austinites who are unemployed due to COVID-19 by year-end.)

The latest:

  • Locally, IT and Healthcare have more openings than those who are jobless with relevant skills.
  • Next Friday, TWC will release September’s unemployment tally for Austin/Travis Co. We hope to see the fifth-consecutive dip in the number of unemployed in our region since Austin’s rate peaked at 12.2% or 138,000 jobless residents in April.
  • The Governor allowed for more entertainment venues to reopen to 50%, which might add local jobs.
  • 70,000 Central Texans still out of a job may go without further government supports for the rest of the year unless stimulus talks resume.
  • 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.

Together, we will help Austinites in slow-to-recover sectors get more skills for higher wages more efficiently and effectively than we ever have.

What to expect: Economists are dialing back their forecasts for US economic growth. They expect to see more workers facing permanent layoffs and a wave of business closures. Locally, the University of Houston’s months-old study of local music venues shows many didn’t anticipate they could stay in business past October. In a recent Wall Street Journal survey, 43% of business and academic economists polled this month don’t expect the labor market to claw back until 2023 or later all the jobs lost as a result of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Yes, but: Workforce Solutions Capital Area remains committed to our mission, now more relevant than ever, to connect local people to local jobs hiring now. We’ve laid out a plan 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 intangibles like transportation and a laptop if they need them. These are uncertain and frightening times. But together, we will get through. Together, we will help Austinites in slow-to-recover sectors get more skills for higher wages more efficiently and effectively than we ever have. 

In partnership, Tamara


Where are the jobs for Austin’s 70,000 unemployed residents, and in what industries?

Comparing August’s jobless talent in Austin MSA to available jobs as of August 31, we see a much larger need for talent in the high-demand Healthcare and IT sectors than hospitality jobs. We also see a pronounced need to retrain entry-level workers previously in face-to-face jobs into higher-wage jobs in growing industries.

  • IT: There were 4.2x more open job postings than jobless residents previously in this sector.
    • Top jobs: software developers (2,620), computer systems engineers (542), and computer user support specialists (476).
  • Healthcare: There were 3.1x more open job postings than jobless residents who previously worked in this sector.
    • Top jobs: RNs (1,343), nursing assistants (333), and pharmacy techs (314).
  • Skilled trades/manufacturing: There were 1.5x more unemployed people than open job postings.
    • Yes, but: Comparing the pre-pandemic month of February with August, Austin Chamber reports the metro’s manufacturing industry had the second most job gains, up 4.1% as further job growth comes with new relocation or expansion plans from companies like Tesla, US Farathane, and BAE Systems.
  • Food service, retail, and accommodation: There were 1.7x more unemployed people than open job postings.
    • Comparing February with August, the Austin metro area’s leisure and hospitality industry has experienced the worst job losses, down 24.3%.
  • See breakdown ↗️

Of note: From March to August 2020, 42% of unemployed claimants in Travis Co previously worked in food service, retail, and accommodation jobs.

  • Only 2% previously worked in IT, and 7% previously worked in Healthcare.


As unemployment continues strain on those with less education than college, people of color are feeling the impact more acutely

As in our previous analysis of Travis Co’s unemployed residents, August’s jobless remain disproportionately people of color, younger, those previously entry-level workers in face-to-face jobs, and those with a high school diploma or GED. 

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.

But even within the segments of the workforce hardest-hit by unemployment, persons of color are more acutely impacted.

  • Travis Co residents with less education than an associate’s degree (39.5%) are disproportionately affected compared to the labor force with this education level (29.1%). The higher the education level, the smaller the impact.
  • Black residents make up 12.8% of the August unemployed compared to 8% in the working-age population. Hispanics also have a higher share of unemployed workers compared to their labor force.
    • See breakdown ↗️
    • Of note: In August 2020, 15.5% of all jobless claimants in Travis Co were black. This share was 16.2% in July. These claimants include those not typically qualified for regular unemployment insurance like self‐employed, gig, and contract workers.


Tips and leads for job seekers based on national and local labor analysis

While the job market grinds toward recovery, the workforce is changing, and there are opportunities to learn marketable skills. In a new “American Graduate: Getting to Work” segment, Sabari Raja, CEO of Nepris and Board Member of Workforce Solutions Capital Area, shared local employment perspectives and leads for Central Texas job seekers looking to learn new skills and find employment in today’s workforce.

What to watch for:

  • In a few short weeks, WFS will launch Phase 1 of “Make It Now,” a rapid reskilling initiative with our education partners that updates the Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan for the era of social distancing.
    • Our renewed focus is on safety, speed, and sufficient supports to provide pathways out of poverty for workers in our community who lost jobs because of the pandemic.
  • ACC recently announced 12 fast track programs that allow students to enroll at a 50% discount. 
  • These pathways are in partnership with WFS’ rapid retraining plan and consist of training in phlebotomy, accounting and bookkeeping, certified production technician, and more. 
  • Most of these courses take 3 months or less to complete.  
  • To connect with employers currently hiring, job seekers can visit WFS’ Jobs Now board. New jobs are posted daily. 
    • We’ve had 3,000 positions posted since the pandemic began, from retail bank tellers to warehouse loaders to cloud-computing engineers.
    • While we suspect there are more job postings on other platforms, we verify these are open positions with local companies ready to hire.
  • Visit our Climb the Ladder Central Texas website for tools to help you take your next step, whether going into the workforce, community college, an apprenticeship, or more.

▶️ Watch the full interview here.

What else: WFS also hosts virtual job fairs regularly to connect local people with local companies hiring now. All events are free and open to the public.

  • Oct 15: Fall Forward Virtual Veterans Career Fair connects veterans and transitioning service members with government agencies and private businesses ready to hire. Share the flyer.
    • Employers can register for a free both here.
  • Oct 27: The Texas HireAbility Capital Region Job Fair connects businesses with quality employees who add value to and enhance the workforce. Share the flyer.
    • Employers can register for a free both here.
    • Of note: One in every five Americans (or at least 20% of your workforce) will face a physical or mental disability at least once in their lives.
  • Nov 5: Hiring Red, White, & You: Warrior Welcome Central Texas is our collaboration with five neighboring workforce development board areas forthe largest virtual hiring experience for veterans in the state.

How you can help:

  • Register your business for our job fairsusing the links above.Feel free to reply to this email with any questions you may have.
  • Please share these hiring events to help reach more of our local veterans and disabled workers seeking employment.
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