Statewide NewsGov. Abbott Announces End of Bonus Federal COVID-19 Unemployment Benefit in Texas

With many job openings left unfilled, the federal government's extra $300 per week unemployment benefit will be discontinued in Texas starting June 26.
May 17, 2021
The State of Texas will opt out of the $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit available throughout the pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday.

“According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits,” he stated.

The allotment was provided on top of the state’s usual $600 per week benefit to unemployed Texans.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the number of unemployment claims is roughly equivalent to the number of job postings in the state. Among those job postings, nearly half offer wages above $15.50 per hour and three-quarters offer wages above $11.50 per hour.

“That assessment,” Abbott added, “does not include the voluminous jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60 percent more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the Pandemic hit Texas.”

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The press release further added, “At this stage of opening the state 100 percent, the focus must be on helping unemployed Texans connect with the more than a million job openings, rather than paying unemployment benefits to remain off the employment rolls.”

The extra benefit was meant to aid those who lost their jobs during the pandemic — most of whom found themselves out of luck because of government-mandated closures. Many recipients found themselves making substantially more than they did while fully employed, but that was by no means the case for everyone.

Texas’ unemployment rate has stabilized since the massive turmoil caused by the pandemic last year.

The unemployment numbers for April will likely be released this coming Friday but Texas’ rate has floated around 7 percent for a few months now.

Throughout the country, there is currently a glut in job openings and a dearth of workers to fill them. The buttressed unemployment benefits are one factor behind the lull in job applicants. The federal benefit is not set to expire until September 1.

Abbott’s release also cited the high rates of fraudulent abuse countenanced by the policy. Almost one-fifth of all unemployment benefit claims — over 800,000 — are confirmed or suspected by the TWC to be fraudulent. The price tag of that fraud, the TWC estimates, is up to $10.4 billion.

At least 18 other states have already made the decision to opt out with varying dates of effect. Discontinuation of the bonus benefit in Texas will occur on June 26.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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