After seeing historically low unemployment numbers—2.6% in February—the pandemic propelled the Austin-Travis County area to a 12.4% unemployment rate in April, only falling slightly to 11.6% in May before dropping to single digits in June.
The Austin metro is faring slightly better, as the Texas Workforce Commission reported a 6.7% jobless rate for July. The state and national unemployment numbers run higher at 8.2% and 10.5%, respectively. Travis County’s 6.9% rate represents 50,485 residents who applied for unemployment benefits through July.
July marked the end of the federal government’s additional $600 per week for unemployed Americans, a benefit economists have said helped fight off poverty numbers from skyrocketing through the economic downturn of the pandemic.
The Austin metro saw 9,245 new jobless claims in July, a number which decreased week by week. The area has seen an annual growth rate of -4% since July 2019, according to the TWC, with 44,800 total jobs lost.
“With the decrease in new claims, we’re hopeful that pandemic-related layoffs are tapering off,” said Tamara Atkinson, the CEO of Workforce Solution Capital Area, the local arm of the Texas Workforce Commission. “However, while [the Austin metro’s] unemployment rate is lower than at the pandemic’s beginning, it remains 2.5 times higher than the 2.8% rate in July 2019."