COLLEGE STATION – Initial unemployment insurance claims in Texas fell for the second week in a row, decreasing to their lowest level since the pandemic hit the economy.
New claims fell to around 26,500 the week ending Nov. 28, the first time claims were below 30,000 since the onset of the pandemic. This brings the total number of initial claims since March 21 to 3.9 million, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
Continuing unemployment claims decreased for the 12th consecutive week, falling to 369,800 the week ending Nov. 21, the lowest level since the pandemic hit the economy.
The number of workers receiving benefits through the pandemic unemployment assistance program, which is open to gig workers and others who don’t typically receive benefits, also fell the week ending Nov. 28.
U.S. claims fell to 711,500 the week ending Nov. 28 after increasing the previous week. This brings the 37-week total to 69.7 million.
However, these downward trends can be reversed.
“The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the past weeks poses a risk to the labor market’s recovery,” said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Luis Torres.
More people in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio filed new unemployment claims during the week ending Nov. 21. In contrast, Houston claims decreased that week.
The Texas border metros were a mixed bag. New claims increased in McAllen and Brownsville, while decreasing in Laredo and El Paso.
“As the number of new COVID-19 cases has fallen in El Paso, so did the number of initial claims,” 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, 899,100 claims;
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 854,300 claims;
San Antonio-New Braunfels, 269,000 claims;
Austin-Round Rock, 227,500 claims;
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 106,700 claims;
El Paso, 95,000 claims;
Brownsville-Harlingen, 47,200 claims; and
Laredo, 27,300 claims.
Layoffs continue in construction as well as in industries that can’t socially distance.
For the second straight week, the construction industry registered the highest number of initial claims the week ending Nov. 21. The sector was follow by accommodation and food services, administrative/support/waste management/remediation services, transportation and warehousing, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade.
A report by the Government Accountability Office found issues with the claims number, including duplicate filings, backlogs, and fraud, which make the weekly readings less reliable than they have been historically.
“In addition, the claims numbers can be more volatile around the holidays because of challenges with seasonal adjustment,” said Torres.
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