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Texas labor market recovery loses steam

​​​​​​​​​COLLEGE STATION – Texas’ labor market recovery stalled in mid-June. Initial unemployment claims increased for two straight weeks to 21,400 claims the week ending June 19. 

​​​About 5.22 ​​million unemployment claims have​​​ been filed since​ March 21, 2020, according ​to U.S. Department​ of Labor (DOL) data. 

Continuing unemployment claims decreased ​to​ 187,900 the week ending June 12 and are getting closer to pre-pandemic levels.

“​Women in the 25-to-34-year age group were more likely than men to leave their jobs to take care of children because of in-person school and daycare closures,” said Dr. Luis Torres, a research economist with the Texas Real Estate Research Center. “This outcome should be reverted once schools and daycares return to in-person learning and caregiving during the fall.​​” 

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, increased the week ending June 19.

​Last week, U.S. initial claims decreased to 410,700, bringing the 66-week total to 84.2​ million.

Fewer people in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio filed unemployment claims in the week ending June 12, with the former two having reached pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, Dallas-Fort Worth initial claims increased and remain 1.4 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

Fewer people along the border filed new unemployment claims the week ending June 12. McAllen and Laredo initial claims have reached pre-pandemic levels, while El Paso and Brownsville initial claims are getting closer to pre-pandemic levels. 

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, 2020:

  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, 1.23 million claims;

  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 1.19 million claims;

  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, 362,400 claims;

  • Austin-Round Rock, 305,100 claims;

  • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 145,100 claims;

  • El Paso, 124,200​ claims;

  • Brownsville-Harlingen, 64,000 claims; and

  • Laredo, 36,000 claims. ​​

Administrative/support/waste management/remediation services​registered the highest number of initial claims the week ending June 12. The sector was followed by construction, retail trade, and healthcare and social assistance.

“Increasing vaccination rates should lead to a faster recovery in the highly punished leisure and hospitality sector, possibly creating a wave of hirings that would allow thousands of laid off workers to find jobs,” said Torres.

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​​Source: Texas Real Estate Research ​Center​​​​​​​​​​

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