Texas jobless claims rise even without extra unemployment

​​​​​COLLEGE STATION – The week after Texas opted out of further federal unemployment assistance, initial jobless claims increased as the labor market continues to ​gradually recover.

Initial claims in Texas increased to​​​​ 24,100 the week ending July 3. About 5.26 ​​million unemployment claims have​​​ been filed since​ March 21, 2020, according ​to U.S. Department​ of Labor (DOL) data. 

Continuing unemployment claims increased ​to​ 208,300 the week ending June 26, recording two straight weeks of increases. 

“Transitions from unemployment to employment have likely been reduced by the effect of the pandemic on women,” said Dr. Luis Torres, a research economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center. “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. This outcome should be reverted once schools and daycares return to in-person learning and caregiving during the fall.” 

Texas job openings reached record highs in March at 712,000, resulting in a record-high job openings rate of 5.4 percent, according to the most recent official numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Based on Texas Real Estate Research Center projections, Texas job openings could have risen further in May to 751,000. 

“Record job openings suggest that w​hile the economy is still short of pre-COVID employment levels, it is not due to insufficient labor demand,” said Torres. “In addition to childcare, other factors that could be affecting the transition from unemployment to employment are the lingering pandemic, early retirement, and the possibility that people are taking more time to rethink their lives more broadly​.”

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 considerably from 2,039 the week prior to 276 the week ending July 3​.​​​​

​Last week, U.S. initial claims increased to 373,000, bringing the 68-week total to 84.9​ million. 

Fewer people in most of Texas’ major and border metros filed new unemployment claims the week ending June 26. The exception was Laredo, which saw no change. ​

The Austin, Houston, El Paso, McAllen, and Brownsville metros have reached pre-pandemic claims 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, 1.24 million claims;

  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 1.20 million claims;

  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, 364,800 claims;

  • Austin-Round Rock, 307,000 claims;

  • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 146,500 claims;

  • El Paso, 125,000​ claims;

  • Brownsville-Harlingen, 64,500 claims; and

  • Laredo, 36,300 claims. ​​

​Administrative/support/waste management/remediation services​registered the highest number of initial claims the week ending July 3. The sector was followed by retail trade, construction, healthcare and social assistance, and accommodation and food services.

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

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