2-minute read

Good afternoon,

While there are many details to surface, yesterday, the President signed a Presidential Memoranda that would restart pandemic stipends up to $400/week. The federal government would redirect $44 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. State governments are asked to provide one-quarter of that sum from their unexpended CARES Act funds.

What it means to Travis Co: Travis Co had roughly 65,000 jobless receiving the $600/week pandemic stipend — over and above their Texas unemployment benefit — until it expired on July 25. If the President’s action survives potential legal challenges, money will again support Travis Co jobless residents, half of whom earn less than $30,000/year. The language in the memoranda suggests a Governor must request the aid from FEMA and agree to provide one-quarter of the total payment. It is not immediately clear when payments will actually restart, though the Memoranda says they can start as of the week ending August 1. Calculations are forthcoming on how long those payments will be sustained, though the Memoranda says the lost wage payments end no later than December 6. With a soft economy and unemployment 3x the February level, this $400/week payment will help Travis Co residents.

Travis Co had roughly 65,000 jobless receiving the $600/week pandemic stipend — over and above their Texas unemployment benefit — until it expired on July 25.

Below, take a closer look at the 55,643 June unemployed residents in Travis Co, a historical low employment rate for lower-income Austinites, and a July job posting trend analysis (showing a downturn since the end of June).

In partnership, Tamara


Who are Travis Co’s unemployed? A closer look at the 55,643 June unemployed residents by ethnicity, age, education, and previous occupation

The unemployed are disproportionately persons of color, younger, and have a high school diploma or GED. Below is a preliminary analysis of raw June unemployment data. We’ll bring you more findings of key changes in jobless demographics comparing more recent months.

Ethnicity: Black and Hispanic Travis Co residents are most disproportionately impacted by unemployment.

  • Black residents make up 12.8% of the June unemployed compared to 7.8% in the working-age population, according to Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights.
    • In June 2020, 16% of all jobless claimants in Travis Co were black. These claimants include those not typically qualified for regular unemployment insurance like self‐employed, gig, and contract workers.
  • Hispanic residents make up 35.7% of the June unemployed while representing 31.4% of the local labor force.

Age: Over half of the June unemployed in Travis Co are between the ages of 16-34.

  • Residents ages 16-24 and 25-34 make up 26.1% and 25.2% of the June unemployed, respectively.
  • Of note: From March-June 2020, most jobless claimants are between the ages of 25-34 (34%). 
    • The second most are ages 35-44 (28%), and the third most is 16-24 (19%).

Education: Travis Co residents with less education than an associate’s degree are most disproportionately impacted by unemployment.

  • Unemployed residents with a high school diploma or GED (21.4%) are disproportionately affected compared to the labor force with this education level (16.9%).
  • Those with some college or an associate’s degree comprise nearly 30% of the June unemployed, near equal to the share of individuals with these educational levels in the labor force.
  • Unemployed residents with a bachelor’s degree (22.6%)comprise a smaller percentage than the total workforce with a bachelor’s degree (31.1%).
  • Of note: From March-June 2020, most jobless claimants have a high school diploma or GED (34%).
    • The second most had some college (24%), and third most hold an associate’s (23%).

Previous occupations: One in four June unemployed Travis Co residents across all sectors were previously in food service, retail, and personal care occupations (23%).

  • 16.6% were previously in skilled trades & manufacturing occupations.
  • 2.6% were previously in healthcare occupations.
  • 2% were previously in IT occupations.
  • Travis Co industries with the most June unemployment are Unknown (9,796); Retail Trade (6,236); Professional, Scientific, and Tech (5,563); and Accommodation and Food Services (5,275).


Lower-income workers in Austin MSA have a historically low rate of employment compared to pre-COVID, down 36.9% as of May 31, 2020

COVID’s impact has hit lower-income Austinites exceptionally hard, with the rate of lower-income employment down 36.9% as of May 31, 2020, compared to January 2020. The employment rate indicates a decrease in lower-income workers active in the workforce.

  • 50% of all Travis Co jobless claimants previously earned less than $30,000, and 78% previously earned less than $50,000, according to WFS data.
  • With high levels of unemployment and relatively few job openings, a cut in take-home pay began two weeks ago for Austin’s jobless claimants with the expiration of the $600 unemployment stipend.
  • Without a law to continue the stipend, the demand for WFS services— job matching and training support — is expected to surge.

Yes, but: WFS is working with a number of elected officialson rapid approaches the Austin region can take to help its lower-income population use this “downtime” to plug into an effective training ecosystem, receive guidance, rapid training, and job placement to ensure 2021 is much better financially.


Following enhanced safety orders, new job postings in Austin MSA fall 23% from the last week of June to the final week of July

According to Opportunity Insight, there was a 23.5% decline in new job postings comparing the week ending June 26 and the week ending July 31. The state of Texas experienced a 12.6% decline in new job ads when comparing the same weekly periods.

  • Job posting trends in Austin MSA across sectors began a decline at the beginning of July with heightened public safety orders brought on by the rise of new COVID-19 cases. 
    • This recent decline is in contrast to the surge in job postings as restrictions eased from May through June.
    • Comparing the last week of May 2020 and the final week of June,there was a 23.6% uptick in new job ads in Austin MSA. This increase was a continuation of an upward trend that began early May as food, retail, and hospitality industry jobs began to open.
  • The Leisure and Hospitality sector was the most impacted in July 2020, with a 32.8% decline in new job ads comparing the last week of June 2020 to the final week of July.
    • We continue to monitor how the rise in cases and enhanced safety restrictions continue to affect this hard-hit industry.
  • The Manufacturing sector showed the most resiliency with only a 3% decline in new job ads comparing the last week of June to the final week of July.
  • Healthcare job postings fell 4.1% when comparing the same periods, as hospitals hire contact tracers and health screeners at building entrances. 
  • Compared to a year ago, July 2020 had 8,398 more new job postings (24,774). However, this increase is largely from businesses filling positions lost during the pandemic.
  • The top occupation groups that companies across all sectors were hiring for in July 2020 were in IT (3,735), retail (2,874), and management (2,764).
Print Friendly, PDF & Email