AUSTIN – Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) today reports the Austin-Round Rock MSA* unemployment rate increased from 5.5% in August 2020 to 6.4% in September 2020, or 80,838 unemployed residents. The region’s unemployment rate remained below Texas (8.3%)** and national (7.7%)** rates.
According to TWC, the Austin-Round Rock region has experienced an annual growth rate of -2.5%, representing the collective loss of 28,700 jobs since September 2019.
Further, TWC reports unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County*** region increased from 5.7% in August 2020 to 6.6% in September 2020, or 49,706 unemployed residents.
TWC reports 7,562 new unemployment claims in September, down from the 8,845 in August.
“These latest unemployment figures confirm its tough out there for Central Texas families, especially since Texas job search requirements return in November 1 for a family to maintain unemployment benefits,” said Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “We are a call or email away to connect our local people to local jobs, whether through job search assistance or connecting them to fast-track training for an in-demand career. We want to help Austinites provide for their families again.”
Employers are still posting jobs in Austin. In September 2020, there were 24,385 new job ads posted in the Austin-Round Rock MSA, although 2,420 fewer than in September 2019.
Key Points by Industry in the Austin-Round Rock MSA in September 2020:
- Monthly Increases: Government (2,700), followed by Professional & Business Services (2,600) and Education & Health Services (1,800).
- Other industries that experienced a jobs increase were Other Services (1,100) and Information (200).
- Monthly Decreases: Mining, Logging & Construction (-1,800), followed by Manufacturing (-1,100), Trade, Transportation & Utilities (-1,000) and Financial Activities (-200).
- Leisure & Hospitality was the only industry to not add or lose jobs.
- Annual Increases: Financial Activities experienced the greatest regional annual job growth with an increase of 12.4%, followed by Professional & Business Services (4.8%) and Manufacturing (3.8%).
- Annual Decreases: Industries that experienced a significant decrease in regional annual job growth include Leisure & Hospitality (-23.4%), Information (-11.4%), and Education & Health Services (-6.5%).
As in the previous months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployed in Travis County are disproportionately persons of color, younger (ages 16 to 34), and have less education than an associate’s degree, according to local data Workforce Solutions analyzed through Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insight.
Workers previously in “face-to-face” hospitality and accommodations continue to be hard-hit by unemployment. Nearly one in four of Austin’s jobless residents were previously in foodservice, retail, and personal care occupations.
Unemployment in Travis County has also disproportionately impacted lower-income residents. From March to September 2020, approximately 50 percent of jobless claimants in Travis County earned less than $30,000 per year when they were working. About 78 percent previously earned less than $50,000 per year.
Workforce Solutions has observed significant changes to unemployment benefits and workforce assistance in Texas:
- The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will reinstate required work searches on November 1. Jobless residents receiving unemployment benefits must complete a designated number of work searches, beginning on the date listed on their work search requirement document sent from TWC, to continue receiving benefits. TWC previously suspended this requirement in March due to the pandemic. Workforce Solutions Capital Area anticipates this policy change will dramatically increase the number of unemployed workers seeking their job matching and training services.
- TWC additionally reinstated work requirements for parents receiving benefits through the child care assistance program. This change comes following the state’s continued re-openings of businesses, according to TWC.
- Negotiations on Capitol Hill for a second stimulus package continue, with uncertainty toward whether an agreement will be reached soon. The lack of new assistance for Austin’s jobless creates additional financial stress. Without an appropriation for a stipend for jobless residents, demand for Workforce Solutions Capital Area services is expected to grow.
- The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) program — one of Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s most prominent federal funding sources — was reduced by 15% on October 1, 2020. Congressional formulas determine funding, which was cut 15.1 percent for the 2021 fiscal year. The program, offered at no cost to participants, is designed to give job seekers personalized support and training to find a job.
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.
“Thousands of our friends and family are seeking work to create stability in their lives,” said Melanie Flowers, Chair of the Board of Directors for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “As people continue to struggle with pandemic-related unemployment, we continue to engage them to offer support with job training, securing work and other necessities.”
Residents seeking assistance can contact us at 512.549.4967 or visit www.wfscapitalarea.com. Workforce Solutions stands with Austin and offers many resources, including:
- Jobs Now: This online tool features over 2,000 job postings for over 3,000 listings with employers across Austin and is updated daily. Job seekers can search openings at www.wfscapitalarea.com/Job-Seekers/Jobs-Now.
- Childcare assistance for Austin’s workforce. Residents returning to work who will need child care may be eligible for tuition scholarships. To begin, parents can apply online to join the childcare waitlist at http://www.wfscapitalarea.com/ChildCareServices.
- Resources for businesses. Workforce Solutions offers outplacement assistance, layoff aversion strategies, and potential financial assistance at no cost to Austin’s employers. To get started, go to www.wfscapitalarea.com/Employer-Services/COVID-19-Resources-for-Employers.
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.