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.


MOST RECENT

Photoo of Travis County sign
Austin City Council, Travis County Commissioners Court will hold rare joint session to address 'dire' COVID-19 status

County Judge Andy Brown called the meeting "an opportunity to coordinate responses."

Photo of a wine shop
Salt & Time expands with natural wine shop and other East Austin business news

Read about six businesses that have opened, closed or celebrated anniversaries on the East Side.

Voters line up during the Dec. 15 runoff election. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legality of ranked-choice voting prompts disagreement between supporters, Austin city attorneys

If a Jan. 11 petition is validated, Austin voters could decide whether to support the implementation a ranked-choice voting system. But is it unconstitutional?

A group of Austin-area school districts is advocating for early distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for school staff members. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin-area school districts advocate for teachers to receive COVID-19 vaccines

Educators in the designated population for early distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in 32 states. Texas was not one of them, according to a Jan. 14 letter signed by 17 Central Texas school districts.

Dr. Anthony Fauci gave remarks while accepting the Ken Shine Prize in Health Leadership from Dell Medical School. (Screenshot via The University of Texas)
Dr. Anthony Fauci praises UT researcher’s role in vaccine development

Dr. Anthony Fauci's remarks came while accepting the Ken Shine Prize in Health Leadership from Dell Medical School.

Photo of Judge Andy Brown at a press conference
Travis County health leaders say Regional COVID-19 Therapeutic Infusion Center will help unburden hospitals

In its first week, the center offered 120 coronavirus patients an antiviral antibody treatment.

PHoto of a vaccine being administered
Austin Public Health discusses vaccination priorities, registration protocol as regional hub

Local health leaders discouraged people from walking up to vaccine sites without an appointment.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler will still reach his term limit in 2022 if voters approve changes to the election cycle. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Potential strong-mayor system in Austin would be 'weakest of any big city in the country,' supporters say

Exactly what kind of a strong-mayor system would Austin have if it was approved by voters? Among the weakest in the country, supporters said.

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar shared a new revenue estimate for the 2022-23 biennium Jan. 11. (Courtesy Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts)
Comptroller projects drop in state revenue, potential for economic uptick for next biennium

Despite the slight reduction in expected revenue for the state's 2022-23 budget, recovery could be on the horizon.

After seeing a 5,000-student decline in enrollment this year, Austin ISD could see its funding cut by the TEA this spring. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Educators in Austin ask TEA to close funding gaps, allow more flexibility to keep students home

After seeing a 5,000-student decline in enrollment this year, Austin ISD could see its funding cut by the TEA this spring.