LOOKING FOR WORK Between April 1 and May 2, more than 24,000 people in the Katy area filed an unemployment insurance claim to the Texas Workforce Commission.
GREATER HOUSTONUNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS 2019 VS. 2020 Unemployment claims have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. Regional economist Jankowski said Greater Houston-area residents have filed about 388,000 claims since March 21. Unemployment claims filed 2019 2020 76,007
Number of unemployment claims per 1,000 people
SOURCE: GREATER HOUSTON PARTNERSHIP/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
March 28 3,401
April 25 May 2 3,142 3,438
March 21 March 14 March 7 3,516 4,115 3,328 4,761 3,238
SOURCE: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
COVID-19hurts Katy-area businesses; economic effect still unknown When Nadeem Ahmed purchased KT Discount Grocers from its previous owner in January, he said he regularly had about 96-110 customers every day. Katy area filed an unemployment insurance claim. BY JEN PARA rose to 14.7% in April, the highest month-over-month increase in the history of tracking the rate, which goes back to January 1948.
also begin to reopen. To help businesses navigate the complexities of reopening and pre- vent a secondwave of the coronavirus, the Katy Returns to Work Task Force— led by Christ Clinic, the Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce, Houston Methodist West Hospital, the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce, the Katy EDC and Parrish Partners Leader- ship—launched May 8. However, Katy-area business attor- ney Michael Berg said he believes it will take a long time for the Katy area’s economy to recover. “I think there will be a hangover effect for quite some time,” Berg said. “This pandemic has slowed business worldwide. I do believe it’s going to be a while before things [get back to where they] were in February. And it may take until late fall or beyond.” Additional reporting by Danica Smithwick and Hannah Zedaker.
Regional economist Patrick Jan- kowski said he suspects the Greater Houston area economy will not return to its pre-coronavirus state until mid- 2021 at the earliest. However, local economics expert Lance LaCour said in a May 7 interview it is too soon to tell the economic fallout for the Katy area. “I don’t want to give anybody a false sense of security,” said LaCour, the president and CEO of the Katy Area Economic Development Council. “We’re in parts of three counties, and it’s hard to grasp [the data] exactly. What you got to do is get on this micro level.” According to data available April 4, the unemployment rate in Katy’s three counties ranges between 11.27%- 12.32%, per the Katy EDC’s website. The national unemployment rate
“This is another Great Depression, I feel,” said Cori Xiong, the co-owner of Mala Sichuan Bistro, which has a location in the Katy area. “In the foreseeable future, I think people’s spending power will decrease, and people’s confidence in the market will decrease, so people are going to hold on to their money.” The local economy could begin a recovery as it begins to reopen, local business experts said. Under Gov. Greg Abbott’s guidelines, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls began reopening May 1. On May 8, salons and barbershops also began operating under limited occupancy. Starting May 18, gyms, exercise facil- ities, nonessential manufacturers and businesses in office buildings could
But due to the coronavirus pan- demic, the store only has about 25 daily customers, even while offering delivery and curbside service, he said. “It’s not been a pleasant two months,” Ahmed said in a May inter- view. “[Customers] have no money to buy things. … If they don’t have money, how do they spend money?” Companies in the Katy and West Houston area will have laid off at least 1,467 employees between Febru- ary and June, according to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifica- tion notices. Between April 1-May 5, more than 24,000 people—or about 48.7 claims per 1,000 people—in the
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