To remain eligible for unemployment benefits, claimants must follow certain guidelines. Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment payouts beginning June 26. Register on WorkInTexas.com UNEMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS
Unemployment in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land area peaked in April 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions began to take effect. Despite restrictions being lifted, unemployment still hovers above 7%.
2020 saw the highest number of unemployed individuals in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land area.
Complete minimum number of work search activities each week (three in Montgomery County)
As of June 2, there were 866,168 job openings in Texas.
Keep a work search log
125.3% increase from 2019 to 2020
Apply for and accept suitable full-time work
SOURCE: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
unemployment claims. Local busi- ness owners and leaders said they anticipate this will help. However, others said pointing the blame at unemployment benefits is mischaracterizing unemployed Tex- ans as lazy and unwilling to work. Jonathan Lewis, senior policy ana- lyst with Every Texan, a nonprofit that advocates to improve equity in health care, education and jobs, said he believes factors such as child day care, low wages and a lack of jobs that match employees’ skills can turn away potential job seekers. “This characterization that workers are lazy is pretty damning,” he said. “If it’s just a $300 benefit that’s hold- ing people back from accepting a job, [it’s] a pretty sad state of affairs.” Unemployment payouts The unemployment assistance program temporarily expands unem- ployment benefit eligibility and is available to claimants who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. To remain eligible, claimants must search for work according to the com- mission’s guidelines, such as com- pleting one to three work searches per week and applying for work. Mont- gomery County requires at least three searches to remain eligible. Philipello said she lost employees due to unemployment benefits. “They were coming to me telling me, ‘We’re making more on unemploy- ment; it’s notworthour time,’” she said. Reid also said the hiring situation is exacerbating Montgomery’s exist- ing entry-level workforce shortage, which has been ongoing for several years, according to previous reporting from Community Impact Newspaper . Meanwhile at 242 Pub & Grill,
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Despite other states increasing their minimum wages, Texas has remained the same since at least 2010. Some believe this is a barrier for entering the workforce. Minimum wage
Unemployment since the pandemic
The unemployment rate in the Houston-The Woodlands- Sugar Land area has remained above 7% since the pandemic.
Texas/federal minimum wage
$7.25 in January 2010 would equate to $8.94 in April 2021, the latest stat available, due to inflation.
SOURCES: LABOR LAW CENTER, U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
job openings in Texas, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Locally, Philipello said she knows of plenty of job openings in the Mont- gomery area. “There’s jobs up and down [Hwy.] 105,” she said. “All of us inMontgomery are hiring; we just cannot find anyone.” Many employers attribute the hir- ing situation to federal pandemic unemployment payments they claim incentivize individuals to not work. InMarch 2020, the federal Coronavi- rus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act established the Pandemic Unem- ployment Assistance program, which temporarily expands unemployment
benefit eligibility and provides an additional $300 a week on top of regu- lar unemployment payouts. “In talking with our retail employ- ers, there has been a struggle for maintaining entry-level employees,” said Shannan Reid, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce president. “There has been universal talk nation- wide that the blame is on unemploy- ment options that make working wages less desirable.” On May 17, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas will opt out of fur- ther federal unemployment payouts beginning June 26, citing an abun- dance of jobs as well as fraudulent
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work for her. “Nobody is coming in to apply at all,” she said. “The few that you do get, they don’t call you back.” Philipello’s situation mirrors other Conroe and Montgomery businesses as well as employers across the state and nation. As of April, Texas’ unem- ployment rate was 6.7%, compared to 3.5% in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemploy- ment rates in the Houston-The Wood- lands-Sugar Land area were 7.1% and 3.4%, respectively. As of June 2, there were 866,168
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