More Texans have filed for unemployment in past three weeks than in all of 2019

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems have been overwhelmed as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to have a crippling effect on the economy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems have been overwhelmed as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to have a crippling effect on the economy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems have been overwhelmed as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to have a crippling effect on the economy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Weekly numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor released April 9 show 6.6 million Americans, including 313,832 Texans, filed unemployment claims the week ending April 4.

This was the second consecutive week in which more than 6 million Americans filed claims as state and local governments around the country continue imposing stay-at-home orders and shuttering businesses, such as retail stores, movie theaters, bars and restaurant dining rooms, in an attempt to prevent local transmission and save hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

Throughout all of 2019, the Texas Workforce Commission processed about 700,000 unemployment claims, according to the state agency. Between March 23 and April 4, federal numbers show 745,443 Texans filed for unemployment.

To manage the high volume of claims, the TWC is hiring hundreds of staff members to help at call centers and is moving hundreds more from other departments to field claims. Additionally, the TWC has extended its call center hours of operation to 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.

The commission also is recommend callers stagger their calls based on area code.


Central Texas residents calling from a 512 area code are asked to call Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 1-5 p.m. Residents who have been laid off or had their hours cut can call the TWC at 800-939-6641 or fill out an application online for unemployment benefits. Those who have lost work can also call Workforce Solutions Capital Area at 512-485-3792. You can read more here about the issues Central Texas residents have had in accessing the TWC unemployment benefits system and about what the commission is doing to handle the overwhelming volume.

Houston residents who have been laid off or had their hours cut can call the TWC at 281-933-3858 or fill out an application online for unemployment benefits. Those who have lost work can also call Workforce Solutions Houston-Galveston Area at 281-807-9462.

Dallas-Fort Worth area residents in the 214, 469, 682, 817 or 972 area codes should check with the TWC website for the specific days to call. Additional information is available online for those in Tarrant County, Collin County and the surrounding area, and the Greater Dallas area.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


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