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State jobless claims increase for second straight week

​​​​COLLEGE STATION – ​​Texas’ initial unemployment claims increased to 51,500 the week ending Oct. 17, the second straight week of increases. 

This brings the total since March 21 to 3.7 million, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

Unemployment insurance claims remain three times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“This upsurge in initial claims is not driven by the extended Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program,” said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Luis Torres. “This is contrary to what is being observed nationally.”​ 

The number of Texans who continue to claim unemployment insurance decreased for the sixth straight week to 690,200 the week ending Oct. 10.

“Continuing claims broke through the 700,000 barrier, a positive note for the labor market,” said Dr. Torres. “The fall in continuing claims continues to be the silver lining, but it is not clear if these people have become re-employed or have permanently left the labor force as workers exhaust their unemployment benefits. 

“September’s labor force numbers indicate that around 172,000 left the labor force, a sign that people are not being re-employed but instead are deciding to leave the labor force,” Dr. Torres said.

Fewer people in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, ​and San Antonio filed new unemployment claims during the week ending Oct. 10. New claims also fell in McAllen, Brownsville, and Laredo.

In contrast, claims increased in Houston as the energy industry continues to struggle. More claims were also filed in El Paso.

Using data from the DOL and the Employment and Training Administration, the ​Center has estimated unemployment claims for Texas’ major and border metros since March 21:​

  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, 846,400 claims;

  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 804,700 claims;

  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, 255,400 claims;

  • Austin-Round Rock, 216,800 claims;

  • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 99,300 claims;​

  • El Paso, 83,900 claims;

  • Brownsville-Harlingen, 44,400 claims; and

  • Laredo, 25,900 claims.

Layoffs continue in the industries that can’t socially distance as well as in construction.

Administrative/support/waste management/remediation services, construction, retail trade, healthcare and social assistance, and accommodation and food services represented the sectors with the most unemployment claims through Oct. 10. 

Last week, new national unemployment claims decreased for the second straight week to 787,500, the lowest since the pandemic hit the economy. This brings the 31-week total to 65.3 million.

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