Per the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Texas’ April unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent — a slight 0.2 percent decrease from March.
The state added 13,000 non-agricultural jobs in April. In 11 of the last 12 months, Texas has added jobs since the initial spike caused by the pandemic and government-mandated shutdowns.
Texas’ unemployment rate is still lagging behind the national average but the volatility of last year has largely tapered off. The Amarillo region continues to have the lowest unemployment rate at 4 percent, a position it’s held for multiple months. The Austin-Round Rock region is second lowest at 4.5 percent.
But certain regions across the state continue to struggle with high unemployment. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission’s unemployment rate again floats into double digits while Beaumont-Port Arthur is close behind at 9.9 percent.
The Leisure & Hospitality industry posted the best month-to-month improvement, adding 14,100 jobs. On the opposite end, the Construction industry shed 13,600 jobs. Government added 11,300 jobs.
The state initially shed 1,452,600 jobs when the pandemic first struck but has regained over two-thirds of that total.
Governor Abbott’s decision to halt the use of the federal government’s extra weekly benefit was made after seeing job openings surpass the unemployment total. He said at the time, “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.”
Businesses across the nation have struggled to hire back lost workers and one contributing factor is that many on unemployment have made more from state benefits than they did while working.
Texas Democrats criticized the move, saying the unemployment rate is still too high to take away that extra benefit — citing that Texas’ rate is still more than double its pre-pandemic low.
April was the first full month in Texas that the state’s pandemic restrictions had been entirely removed. In early March, Abbott announced the full reopening of the state and lifting of its mask mandate.
While the economy begins to pick back up with government restrictions letting up, a substantial readjustment period will begin as consumer demand shifts toward its pre-pandemic levels. There is still a long road back to reaching the roaring economy and record unemployment lows experienced before the world shut itself down.
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Brad Johnson is 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.