COLLEGE STATION – Initial jobless claims in Texas decreased to 29,000 the week ending May 1, marking five straight weeks of declines.
About 5.05 million unemployment claims have been filed since March 21, 2020, according to U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) data.
Continuing unemployment claims decreased to 255,400 the week ending April 24, recording the lowest level since the pandemic and two straight weeks of declines.
“Despite the decreases, levels of both initial and continuing claims still remain around 1.7 and 1.6 times higher, respectively, than their pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Dr. Luis Torres, a research economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center.
“Anecdotal evidence from service sector businesses point toward the lack of available applicants and generous unemployment benefits as major impediments in rehiring workers,” said Torres.
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, decreased the week ending May 1.
Last week, U.S. initial claims decreased to 498,200, the lowest level of the pandemic. This brings the 59-week total to 81.3 million.
Fewer people in all of Texas’ major and border metros filed new unemployment claims the week ending April 24. This marks three straight weeks of declines.
Using data from the DOL and the Employment and Training Administration, the Center has estimate d unemployment claims for Texas’ major and border metros since March 21, 2020:
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, 1.19 million claims;
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 1.15 million claims;
San Antonio-New Braunfels, 350,700 claims;
Austin-Round Rock, 296,500 claims;
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 138,700 claims;
El Paso, 120,400 claims;
Brownsville-Harlingen, 61,200 claims; and
Laredo, 34,700 claims.
“Increasing vaccination rates should lead to a faster recovery in the leisure and hospitality sector, possibly creating a wave of hiring that would allow thousands of laid-off workers to find jobs,” said Torres.
Retail registered the highest number of initial claims the week ending April 24. The sector was followed by administrative/support/waste management/remediation services, healthcare and social assistance services, and construction.
The Texas Real Estate Research Center has a wealth of economic information online for free.