By Mitchell Ferman, Texas Tribune
More than 96,000 Texans applied for jobless relief last week, a 7.4% bump over the week before.
It is a reversal for Texas, which had seen the number of applications for unemployment benefits fall almost every week over week since mid-March, when large numbers of Texans began filing jobless claims. In total, nearly 2.7 million Texans have filed claims since then.
The recent increase in claims, released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor, comes as the state is seeing the coronavirus rapidly spread, which led Gov. Greg Abbott last week to change course and re-close Texas bars. After initially closing business in Texas in April, Abbott had began reopening business in phases.
Also announced on Thursday, in June U.S. employers added 4.8 million jobs and the national unemployment rate for the month fell to 11.1%, a 2.2% dip from May. The jobless rate for each state will be released later this month; Texas recorded a 13% unemployment rate in May, the second worst employment month on record, behind April.
But as coronavirus cases surge in Texas and across the country, economists warn of uneven economic recovery. Still, it’s unclear how many Texans are unemployed and were unable to get through to the Texas Workforce Commission, the agency that receives jobless claims, due to busy phone lines and understaffing, an issue the agency first confronted in March. Some Texans in June said they still had not received jobless benefits despite applying weeks or even months before.
COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, is far more prevalent in Texas now than it was during April, when hundreds of thousands of Texans applied for jobless relief almost every week. On Wednesday, Texas reported more than 8,000 new cases of the coronavirus, more than doubling new case counts from just two weeks ago.