COLLEGE STATION – Texas’ initial unemployment claims increased to 37,500 the week ending Nov. 14 after decreasing to their lowest number the previous week.
This brings the total since March 21 to 3.84 million, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
A key driver of the increase was the growth in initial claims filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which accounted for 6,400 of the new claims.
The claims increase was accompanied by a current rise in COVID-19 cases across Texas and the nation.
The number of Texans who continue to claim unemployment insurance decreased for the tenth straight week to 517,100 the week ending Nov. 7, the lowest level since the pandemic hit the economy.
“This trend can be reverted if COVID-19 cases continue to rise, impeding the reopening of the economy and causing government mandated rollbacks or closures,” said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Luis Torres. “The rise in cases also causes household mobility to decline, as households prefer to stay home to not get infected.”
Last week, new national unemployment claims increased to 742,400 after declining for four straight weeks. This brings the 35-week total to 68.2 million.
Fewer people in all of Texas’ major metros filed new unemployment claims during the week ending Nov. 7. New claims also decreased along the Texas-Mexico border, including in El Paso, which had a surge in COVID-19 cases the last few weeks.
“Even though new claims fell in El Paso, they still remain around 5.3 times higher than pre-pandemic levels, but still below the historic high numbers reached at the end of March and the start of April,” said Torres.
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, 881,700 claims;
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 836,500 claims;
San Antonio-New Braunfels, 264,300 claims;
Austin-Round Rock, 223,800 claims;
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 104,100 claims;
El Paso, 91,000 claims;
Brownsville-Harlingen, 46,300 claims; and
Laredo, 26,900 claims.
The rise in COVID-19 cases could affect consumer behavior, holding back business activity and maintaining layoffs, which continue in the industries that can’t socially distance as well as in construction.
Administrative/support/waste management/remediation services, construction, healthcare and social assistance, retail trade, and accommodation and food services represented the sectors with the most unemployment claims through Nov. 7.