Texas has doled out $6.4B in unemployment benefits, projects state fund to run out by end of May

Customers wait in line at NeWorlDeli in Austin on May 1. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Customers wait in line at NeWorlDeli in Austin on May 1. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Customers wait in line at NeWorlDeli in Austin on May 1. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the additional benefits a claimant can receive per week.

Texans receiving unemployment benefits will not notice any delay in payments even if the state’s unemployment fund runs out toward the end of May as projected by officials.

This is because the state has already received approval to draw what is known as Title XII advances, or interest-free loans, to cover unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It looks like we’re going to switch over [to withdraw federal funds] the last week in May, possibly the first week in June. Everyone who is receiving benefits, they’re not going to see a difference,” Cisco Gamez, media and public relations specialist for the TWC’s communication department, told Community Impact Newspaper.

On March 26, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he requested access to the Title XII funds, which allows states to receive advances or loans from the federal government to cover unemployment benefits without any delay to those who need them, according to the governor’s website.

Gamez said the state made a request to withdraw up to $1.8 billion in May, $2.6 billion in June and $2 billion in July. He said the actual amount the state ends up borrowing could differ based on the daily draws for benefits.

Since March 14, the state has received more than 2.6 million unemployment claims and paid out more than $6.4 billion in benefits. Of that, $3.9 billion has come from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides an additional $600 per week for claimants on top of their regular benefits.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund has provided $282 million to claimants. This fund provides benefits to those who are self-employed or independent contractors and would typically not be eligible for unemployment benefits, according to the TWC.

Because unemployment benefits are paid out every two weeks, this means those who out of work during the pandemic could receive $1,200 every two week on top of their regular unemployment benefits. Gamez said the additional benefits are guaranteed for eligible claimants through July 25.

Analysis of those claims by Community Impact Newspaper showed that the number of weekly claims rose more than 1,100% from the week ending March 14 and the week ending May 16.

Looking at the number of claims by industry, the accommodation and food service industry had the most claims, totaling 283,370 between March 1 and May 9. Those in the retail trade totaled 198,800 claims in that same time period.

“I don’t think anyone was prepared for all of this,” Gamez said. “We certainly made preparations. This is a record number of unemployment claims. In two months’ time, I think we did over three years’ worth of claims.”

By Amy Denney
Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and then senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition and covering transportation. She is now managing editor for the nine publications in the Central Texas area.


Photo of a doctor handling a vaccine
As community waits anxiously, here is where Travis County stands with COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Demand still exceeds supply for vaccines in the Austin area, even for those in Phase 1 of distribution.

As President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office, elected officials from around Texas took to Twitter. (Courtesy Adobe Stock Images)
President Joe Biden's inauguration spurs reactions from elected officials around Texas

As President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office, elected officials from around Texas took to Twitter.

27 Eleven Apartments
Demolition underway on future site of 27 Eleven apartment development in North Austin

Site work has begun on the future home of a 5-story apartment development along West Anderson Lane in North Austin.

Save Austin Now wants to overturn a city policy that allows public camping. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Aiming to reinstate camping ban, group guarantees it has enough signatures to put controversial policy on ballot

If validated, the controversial decision to lift the public camping ban could be up to voters in May.

The Austin-based eatery's menu is inspired by Nashville hot chicken; offerings include chicken bites, jumbo tenders, chicken sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and homemade pies. (Courtesy Tumble 22)
Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant coming to Round Rock and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.

Screen shot of a web meeting
COVID-19 rates in Travis County starting to improve, but vaccine distribution remains complicated

Austin Public Health and other local distributors still lack enough supply to provide all qualified residents with an initial dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The 87th Texas Legislature convened Jan. 12. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
State bills target Austin’s police cuts, forced closure of businesses during pandemic

Legislative bills are still being drafted, but even in the session's very beginning, a handful of proposals have drawn the attention of local officials.

A new bus platform at Dean Keeton Street and Guadalupe Street allows Capital Metro buses to pick up and drop off passengers without pulling out of traffic. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin transportation news: A new bus stop on the Drag, a barge on Lady Bird Lake and tolls on US 183

The barge is taking soil samples as part of the environmental review process for the forthcoming Blue Line, and the bus stop is part of a six-month pilot program.

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)
Food insecurity in Texas' 87th Legislature: Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas to propose legislation addressing hunger

Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas hosted a webinar Jan. 19 to discuss increasing funding and accessibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the 87th legislative session.

Tesla will continue construction of its southeast Travis County manufacturing plant through 2021. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Story to watch in 2021: Tesla’s gigafactory set for completion by year’s end

Tesla is already hiring a number of manufacturing positions for the factory as well as engineers.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.