Unemployment rate in Travis County shoots to 12.4% in April; Austin metro jumps to 12.2%

On a nearly empty South Congress Avenue, a resident plays guitar March 25. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
On a nearly empty South Congress Avenue, a resident plays guitar March 25. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

On a nearly empty South Congress Avenue, a resident plays guitar March 25. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin-Travis County saw its unemployment rate jump from 3.7% in March to 12.4% in April, after 84,222 residents sought jobless benefits as the coronavirus pandemic continued to cause job loss throughout the country.

The numbers, published May 22 by the Texas Workforce Commission, also showed that unemployment in the Austin-Round Rock metro shot up to 12.2% in April, up from 3.8% in March. Travis County’s and the metro’s jobless rates remained below those of Texas—13%—and the country—14.4%.

According to the commission, the leisure and hospitality industries experienced, by far, the greatest impact, with 58,700 jobs lost, followed by education and health services, with 19,300 lost. Roughly 5,300 government jobs were also cut. Financial services was the only industry to see no impact from the pandemic, per TWC data.

Much of the economy was shut down through the entirety of April, the only such month thus far during the pandemic where that was the case. Shutdowns in Austin began March 17, and by May 1, the state began a partial reopening of many businesses, such as restaurants, movie theaters and retail; later, this expanded to barbershops, hair salons and gyms. As of May 22, restaurants can open their dining rooms to 50% capacity, and bars can open to 25% capacity.

Local economists notably predicted in April that much of the job loss seen in the early stages of the pandemic would be regained by the end of the year.

Since the coronavirus began wreaking havoc on the local economy, the Texas Workforce Commission has been overwhelmed with an unprecedented amount of calls and requests for unemployment help, officials said. Between March 14 and April 17, the commission’s service centers processed 1.2 million jobless claims, a number typically seen over the course of 18 months.

The local arm of the workforce commission, Workforce Solutions Capital Area, is working to help people find work in industries that are hiring and helping businesses navigate reopening as the economy begins to wake up from its pandemic shutdown, officials said.

“We are the first responders for employment during this disaster,” said Tamara Atkinson, Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO. “We are here to help Travis County return to work by assisting impacted workers to find a job or businesses to keep their doors open.”

Residents seeking assistance can contact Workforce Solutions Capital Area at 512-549-4967 or at www.wfscapitalarea.com. The organization offers several resources, including the following.


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