In March, unemployment increased by 232,000.
Texas is still slightly below the national average which is currently at 14.4 percent.
But the effects of the mandated business closures by the state and local governments have still wreaked havoc on the economy.
A Hobby School survey found that from mid-March to early April, nearly 20 percent of bars and restaurants closed permanently.
The hospitality industry is especially struggling, with closures mandated up until recently and a consumer population still wary of spending significant time in public.
The leisure and hospitality industry — which includes bars, restaurants, and hotels — lost over 530,000 jobs from March to April. That’s a near 40 percent drop.
Hospitality business owners, such as Lubbock bar owner Michael Clintsman, are barely staying above water. Additionally, it has been difficult to rehire employees once the establishment does reopen for a few reasons. One is that the requirements for Paycheck Protection Program loans make it difficult for many to use, like Clintsman who could not meet the loan’s 75 percent on employee wages requirement, while still maintaining its favorability.
Another is that many newly unemployed, thanks to the CARES Act, are making more while unemployed than they were employed. Employees are understandably reticent to return to work during what is an incredibly unsteady time when they can bring in more money for their families on unemployment.
Other industries disproportionately hurting are mining and logging which dropped over 10 percent in industry jobs; construction which lost nearly eight percent; professional and business services at eight percent; and education and health services at nine percent.
The areas affected most in Texas are Beaumont-Port Arthur and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission each with an 18 percent unemployment rate, Brownsville-Harlingen at 17 percent, Corpus Christi at 16 percent, and Victoria at 14 percent.
Dallas-Fort Worth has the largest raw number of unemployed but their rate is on par with the state’s average.
A significant factor for Texas is its struggling oil and gas industry since the demand for travel, both personal and commercial, has nearly evaporated.
TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a measurable effect on the Texas economy. While we will continue to provide assistance to those seeking unemployment benefits, many employers are hiring and TWC is working to provide resources to job seekers as well as employers as the state opens up.”
The Workforce Commission has been inundated with unemployment claims, so much so that state legislative staffers were recommissioned to assist with the overload.
Over 2.4 million people filed for unemployment across the country last week.
Texas has initiated Phase Two of its reopening plan, which expands capacity for Phase One businesses, such as restaurants, to 50 percent capacity and allowing new businesses, like bars and gyms, to open at 25 percent capacity.
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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.