Cy-Fair Edition - May 2020

Despite record-high unemployment claims, several entities are still hiring in the Greater Houston area. Additionally, prospective applicants can visit to view nearly 500,000 job openings statewide. H-E-B The Houston Police Department Kroger The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Need a job? are fearful of leaving their homes. “Fear was the main diculty,” Saw- yer said. “As far as I know, I could still be teaching. I’ve tried to give assur- ance, and I’m getting no response whatsoever. I think a lot of it has to do with the socioeconomic level too.” A lack of child care options is another challenge families face. Even after lim- ited nonessential businesses opened in early May, child care providers were only authorized to accept chil- dren of essential workers, such as rst responders, according to the TWC. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it particularly dicult for parents who still have to work in essential jobs, but have young children and need child care,” TWCExecutiveDirector Ed Serna said in a press release April 16. “With schools closed, nding an alternative on such short notice is very dicult. Texas needs these essential workers on the job, but they need the peace of

Business resources

Spring Cypress Road for her business, CROP’s Hair Styling, for nearly seven years, getting back in the salon could not have come soon enough. “I feel like I’m going through all my savings to live and to rent a room that I don’t have access to,” she said in a May 4 phone interview prior to Abbott’s announcement. “I just want to get back to work.” Ortiz’s salon is one room, and she has always accommodated one customer at a time. Hair stylists in Texas have always been required to meet high sanitation standards, so she said she thought it was unfair that businesses such as malls and movie theaters were able to open their doors before salons. The same afternoon the governor made the announcement, Ortiz said she booked 75 services for the com- ing days. Customers and stylists were eager to return for the most part, she said. “I know there are some who don’t think that they shouldn’t go back, but I think there’s a majority who wants to go back, who need to go back,” she said. “This is our livelihood.” Unemployment lingers Patrick Jankowski, the senior vice president of research for the GHP, said he estimates about 400,000 unem- ployment insurance claims were led in the Greater Houston area from March 1-May 2—up from 30,450 during the same time frame in 2019. Initial claims in the U.S. began trend- ing down in early April, but Jankowski said many individuals are still having issues ling, so he expects to keep seeing high levels of claims for several more weeks. “I can denitely see this unemploy- ment rate being the highest it’s ever been on record,” he said during an April 28 webinar. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the TWC received an average of 13,000 calls daily, but calls peaked at about 1.7 million in a 24-hour period during the pandemic. The agency hired additional sta and invested $330,000 in phone and website upgrades to better handle

the volume of requests. Job sectors hit the hardest statewide during the pandemic include accom- modation and food service, retail trade, and health care and social assistance, according to the TWC. Hospitality may be one of the last sectors to fully recover, as Jankowski said he believes families will be hesitant to travel and be uncomfortable attending large gath- erings for a while. Widger said she would not be able to get back to work with her trade show company until federal ocials deem it safe for groups of hundreds of people to gather, but her employer said the companywould only survive until July. She applied to work for Amazon Flex in 2019, looking to make some extra income for the holidays, but she was not contacted until concerns about the coronavirus began to spread and the need for delivery drivers increased. “But a lot of people are out of work trying to get those jobs,” Widger said. “Usually I can’t get more than three shifts a week, and they’re all evening shifts.” Obstacles ahead While state ocials are eager to reopen the economy in Texas, experts said the aftermath of the coronavirus will have a lasting eect on the nation. New home construction in the U.S. is down 22.3% and vehicle sales are down 32.2% since 2019—two key eco- nomic indicators Jankowski said are concerning. “It’s a bit of a sign of ... consumer apprehension,” he said. “Most con- sumers aren’t going to buy a car or they’re not going to buy a house if they’re worried about being able to make [payments].” Extracurricular activities may also be out of the question as families face nancial uncertainty. Stephanie Sawyer oers private piano lessons out of her Cypress home, and she saidher students stopped com- ing in early March. She said she would still be oering lessons if the demand was there, but she believes families are not only cutting back on expenses but

The following are a few resources local businesses can benet from. Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce Northwest Houston Chamber of Commerce Small Business Administration mind of having a safe, regulated facility to take care of their children.” Because she is helping her two youngest children do their school work from home during the day, Widger said she is only available to work in the evenings. Shifts with Amazon Flex are hard to come by because so many peo- ple need the hours. “The biggest hurdle is that my boys aren’t going back to school this year, and none of the summer programs my special needs son usually qualies for are being held this year,” she said. “Our family’s basically quarantined until August, and then we see if schools are really going to open back up. Until that happens, there’s really no option for me to go out and get a full-time job during the day.”

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Who is eligible for unemployment? The Texas Workforce Commission has several criteria to determine Individuals must be unemployed or working reduced hours through no fault of their own. Past wages are an eligibility requirement and help calculate benet amounts.

eligibility of individuals ling for unemployment benets, and some have been adjusted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texans receiving unemployment benets are not currently required to be looking for work, but this will be reinstated following the crisis. If an employee returns to work full time, they would not be eligible for unemployment insurance benets.

DISCLAIMER: THIS CHART IS NOT ACCURATE FOR ALL CASES. SOURCE: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSIONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER To le for unemployment through the Texas Workforce Commission either online at or by phone at 800-939-6631, applicants should take the following steps. How to le for unemployment

Already approved for unemployment benets Exhausted unemployment on or after July 1, 2019 Eligible for regular unemployment benets

Eligible to receive either unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benets for up to 39 weeks

Wait for notication

Additional $600 per week available until July 31

Apply online at

13 weeks of additional benets

Nontraditional applicant: includes individuals not eligible for regular unemployment, including independent contractors, the self- employed and those without sucient wages




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