AUSTIN – Nine months into the pandemic, Austin area unemployment is still double pre-COVID levels.
Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) today reports the Austin-Round Rock MSA* unemployment rate increased from 5% in October 2020 to 5.9% in November 2020, or 74,345 unemployed residents. The updated rate comes while Congress continues talks to reach a deal on a coronavirus aid package. Enhanced and expanded unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of the month. The Paycheck Protection Program, which provided loans to small businesses to help keep them open and their employees paid, closed in August.
- The region’s unemployment rate remained below Texas (8%)** and national (6.4%)** rates.
- According to TWC, the Austin-Round Rock region has experienced an annual growth rate of -1.1 %, representing the collective loss of 12,800 jobs since November 2019. Further, TWC reports unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County*** region increased from 5.1% in October 2020 to 5.9% in November 2020, or 44,831 unemployed residents.
- TWC reports 4,853 new unemployment claims in November, down slightly from the 5,354 in October.
According to Burning Glass Labor Insight, roughly 20 percent of the Austin metro’s unemployed residents were previously in face-to-face food-service, retail, and hospitality jobs.
“More and more of our neighbors are being impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout. Over 70,000 Austin area residents are jobless with expanded federal unemployment benefits expiring in a week,” said Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “We can assist with your job search or acquiring the skills needed for a high-paying, in-demand career quickly, at no-cost. Go to wfscapitalarea.com or call us at 512-549-4967 to begin.”
“We’re proud of the job expansion and diversification of the Austin economy thanks to relocating companies like BAE, Tesla, Oracle, and Tata,” Atkinson added. “With this will come the need to train Austinites previously in struggling industries to be prepared for these great new opportunities.”
November Job Growth/Losses by Industry in the Austin-Round Rock MSA:
- Monthly Increases: Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (4,300), followed by Professional & Business Services (1,600), Leisure and Hospitality (1,400), Manufacturing (1,200), and Mining, Logging and Construction (1,000).
- Monthly Decreases: Education and Health Services experienced a decrease with 1,100 jobs lost.
- Annual Increases: Financial Activities experienced the greatest regional annual job growth with an increase of 17.5%, followed by Manufacturing (6.9%) and Professional & Business Services (6.1%).
- Annual Decreases: Industries that experienced a significant decrease in regional annual job growth include Leisure & Hospitality (-20.6%), Information (-11.3%), and Education & Health Services (-5.5%).
- Of note: 21,945 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA in November 2020 (-2,063 from November 2019).
- 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 occupations in the most in-demand sectors, targeted in Austin’s Community Workforce Plan, were registered nurses, software developers, heavy and tractor trailer drivers, LVNs, and general maintenance and repair workers.
Local jobless face significant changes to Texas unemployment benefits and workforce assistance:
- On December 26, hundreds of thousands of Texans will lose unemployment benefits that were extended and expanded during the coronavirus pandemic through the CARES Act. Workers who have exhausted their regular benefits or are not typically eligible for unemployment benefits (like gig and contract workers) will no longer receive payments.
- 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.
- On November 1, TWC began to require jobless residents to complete a minimum number of work search activities each week to continue to receive Texas unemployment benefits beginning on the date listed on their work search requirement document sent from TWC. Travis County residents must complete three per week. TWC previously suspended this requirement in March.
- TWC has reinstated work requirements for parents receiving child care assistance. Parents must be working or in school to receive care. Parents in the program can request to put their financial assistance on a temporary hold and will not lose their eligibility.
To help Austin return to work quickly, Workforce Solutions Capital Area launched RE:WorkNOW (reworknow.org/austin), a new rapid training program for City of Austin and Travis County residents.
- With financial backing from the City of Austin and Travis County, Phase 1 of this effort will provide 260 scholarships to jobless residents for no-cost, rapid, and safe job training.
- Program graduates will be connected to jobs in growing industries like IT, healthcare, skilled trades and advanced manufacturing.
- Eligible enrollees in training courses may receive $200 weekly stipends, career advising, and placement. Childcare, transportation, and digital inclusion will also be provided as needed and as funds are available.
- Participating training providers have expanded rapid training programs in both remote and hybrid formats with support from Workforce Solutions Capital Area.
- Courses can take as little as four weeks, are aligned with industry expectations, and will result in high-demand jobs at better wages.
- This effort is part of the five-year Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan’s goal to lift 10,000 people out of poverty by 2021.
- Space is limited, and enrollment into approved courses is handled first-come, first served. To learn more and apply, visit reworknow.org/austin.
“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,” said Melanie Flowers, Chair of the Board of Directors for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “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.”
Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s three career centers across Austin are available by phone, email, or in-person by appointment only to serve residents and businesses impacted by economic changes caused by COVID-19.
Residents seeking assistance can contact us at 512.549.4967 or visit wfscapitalarea.com to learn about our many services and resources for job seekers, employers, parents and students.
Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board is the publicly-funded workforce board for Travis County. Through strong partnerships and strategic collaborations, Workforce Solutions is leading the region’s workforce system in the development of a world-class workforce.
*The Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.
**Unemployment rates listed are not seasonally adjusted.
***The Capital Area Workforce Development Area includes Travis County.