How Austin Creative Reuse Kept Their Center Open and Staff Working During the Pandemic with Layoff Aversion Funding

27 Oct

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept into Austin in spring 2020, local businesses small and large were impacted. Many businesses closed their doors, but others sought support to continue operations and keep their people working. One of these businesses was Austin Creative Reuse (ACR), a nonprofit with a mission to foster conservation and reuse through creativity, education, and community building.

ACR operates a creative reuse center in East Austin, selling gently used creative materials donated from residents and businesses. ACR also offers workshops to educate Austinites about reuse and helps promote local artists, said Jenn Evans, Executive Director.

“Just as the pandemic hit, we expanded into a new location in the Windsor Park neighborhood,” Jenn said.

“I attended a webinar hosted by Mission Capital in the early days of the pandemic, where Amber Warne, the Director of Upskilling and Advancement at Workforce Solutions, spoke about Rapid Response programs for employers,” said Jenn. “I reached out after the event, and Amber and several of her colleagues were kind enough to meet with me to discuss ACR’s immediate needs.”

Most of ACR’s employees are retail clerks, an occupation with limited work-from-home options. The Board of Directors committed to paying all staff for the hours they would have worked during the closure with the organization’s emergency funds, but those funds were quickly depleted.

ACR applied for and received Layoff Aversion funding, which “allowed us to make the investments necessary to safely operate a small retail business in the time of COVID,” Jenn said. “These investments keep our staff, customers and donors safe. Reducing the risk of exposure also increases the likelihood that, once opened, the center will be able to stay open.”

“ACR would like to extend our deepest thanks to everyone at Workforce Solutions Capital Area.”

Jenn evans

With funding in hand, ACR purchased sanitization supplies and services to maintain a safe environment for staff and customers, equipment like utility carts and bay door screens for safe and contactless collection of donations, and technology to allow more staff to work remotely.

ACR also purchased equipment to expand a new online store and launch sidewalk sales. This provided safe alternate means for customers to shop while ACR prepared to reopen the center, according to Jenn.

Sales are rebounding at ACR.

“Workforce Solutions Capital Area has been an amazing partner during this chapter. All Workforce Solutions staff – and Amber Warne, in particular – were deeply supportive in helping ACR to plan our re-opening needs and use the Layoff Aversion funds wisely and responsively to the ever-changing COVID environment,” Jenn said.

“Austin-area businesses and non-profits are lucky to have such a great local partner in Workforce Solutions Capital Area,” she added.

ACR reopened the interior of the center on August 20—after being closed for five months, their doors were open again.

“The Layoff Aversion funding allowed ACR to orchestrate a staged re-opening of our center that was both responsive to the needs of our staff and our customers and reflective of the developing risks posed by COVID-19 in Central Texas,” Jenn said.

“The funding allowed us to quickly pivot to alternate ways for our community to shop with us while the center was closed, such as sidewalks sales, personal shopping and our new online store,” said Jenn. “These new funding streams both offered much needed revenue and allowed us to get creative materials back into the community at a time when they were needed most.”

ACR applied funding toward purchasing equipment to make shopping safe for staff and customers.

ACR is open four days a week and at significantly lower capacity, but sales are rebounding. Earlier in October, ACR celebrated the fifth anniversary of opening of Austin’s first and only creative reuse center.

ACR is also celebrating their growing workforce: “We hired our 19th staff member the week of October 19, up from 14 when we applied for the Layoff Aversion Program in May,” Jenn said.

With center sales as ACR’s primary source of income, reopening the center and generating revenue was the only path toward long-term viability of the organization. The Layoff Aversion funding allowed ACR to make the investments necessary to safely operate a small business in the time of COVID.

Without those investments, it would have been very difficult for us to reopen the center. We certainly would not have been able to hire new staff and would most likely have needed to reduce hours for existing staff or face layoffs,” Jenn said.

“ACR would like to extend our deepest thanks to everyone at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. This funding was instrumental in allowing us to keep our entire staff working during the five months that our center was closed to the public,” Jenn said. “We look forward to continuing to work with your team on upskilling, professional development, staff recruitment and more!”

Workforce Solutions Capital Area can assist Central Texas employers impacted by COVID-19
If you are a business or CBO facing a layoff or closure, we can offer outplacement assistance, layoff aversion strategies, and potential financial assistance at no cost.

Visit our website to learn about resources to assist you in responding to economic changes related to concerns about COVID-19.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (October 5-9, 2020)

9 Oct

3-minute read

Good afternoon – and happy National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)!

This month, Workforce Solutions Capital Area celebrates the skills, talents, and contributions of workers with disabilities in the 75thanniversary of NDEAM, and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We hope you’ll join us in the celebration by participating in our upcoming Texas HireAbility Job Fair (more below). Also, WFS applauds Austin City Council’s creation of the Austin Economic Development Corporation, which will come online during trying times for our community as business closures mount and longtime issues, such as affordability, are exacerbated by the pandemic. (And again, special thanks to the City of Austin and Travis County for their swift response to our workforce crisis, recently funding the first phase of “Make It Now,” which will rapidly retrain at least 260 low-income Austinites who are unemployed due to COVID-19 by year-end.)

The latest:

  • Locally, IT and Healthcare have more openings than those who are jobless with relevant skills.
  • Next Friday, TWC will release September’s unemployment tally for Austin/Travis Co. We hope to see the fifth-consecutive dip in the number of unemployed in our region since Austin’s rate peaked at 12.2% or 138,000 jobless residents in April.
  • The Governor allowed for more entertainment venues to reopen to 50%, which might add local jobs.
  • 70,000 Central Texans still out of a job may go without further government supports for the rest of the year unless stimulus talks resume.
  • We remain hopeful lawmakers will come together with plans that can help those in need 1) support themselves and 2) get skills for employment in growing sectors of the economy.

Together, we will help Austinites in slow-to-recover sectors get more skills for higher wages more efficiently and effectively than we ever have.

What to expect: Economists are dialing back their forecasts for US economic growth. They expect to see more workers facing permanent layoffs and a wave of business closures. Locally, the University of Houston’s months-old study of local music venues shows many didn’t anticipate they could stay in business past October. In a recent Wall Street Journal survey, 43% of business and academic economists polled this month don’t expect the labor market to claw back until 2023 or later all the jobs lost as a result of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Yes, but: Workforce Solutions Capital Area remains committed to our mission, now more relevant than ever, to connect local people to local jobs hiring now. We’ve laid out a plan to identify those in poverty who need help, guide them in enrolling in a rapid training program, and offer subsidized, high-quality child care and intangibles like transportation and a laptop if they need them. These are uncertain and frightening times. But together, we will get through. Together, we will help Austinites in slow-to-recover sectors get more skills for higher wages more efficiently and effectively than we ever have. 

In partnership, Tamara


1

Where are the jobs for Austin’s 70,000 unemployed residents, and in what industries?

Comparing August’s jobless talent in Austin MSA to available jobs as of August 31, we see a much larger need for talent in the high-demand Healthcare and IT sectors than hospitality jobs. We also see a pronounced need to retrain entry-level workers previously in face-to-face jobs into higher-wage jobs in growing industries.

  • IT: There were 4.2x more open job postings than jobless residents previously in this sector.
    • Top jobs: software developers (2,620), computer systems engineers (542), and computer user support specialists (476).
  • Healthcare: There were 3.1x more open job postings than jobless residents who previously worked in this sector.
    • Top jobs: RNs (1,343), nursing assistants (333), and pharmacy techs (314).
  • Skilled trades/manufacturing: There were 1.5x more unemployed people than open job postings.
    • Yes, but: Comparing the pre-pandemic month of February with August, Austin Chamber reports the metro’s manufacturing industry had the second most job gains, up 4.1% as further job growth comes with new relocation or expansion plans from companies like Tesla, US Farathane, and BAE Systems.
  • Food service, retail, and accommodation: There were 1.7x more unemployed people than open job postings.
    • Comparing February with August, the Austin metro area’s leisure and hospitality industry has experienced the worst job losses, down 24.3%.
  • See breakdown ↗️

Of note: From March to August 2020, 42% of unemployed claimants in Travis Co previously worked in food service, retail, and accommodation jobs.

  • Only 2% previously worked in IT, and 7% previously worked in Healthcare.

2

As unemployment continues strain on those with less education than college, people of color are feeling the impact more acutely

As in our previous analysis of Travis Co’s unemployed residents, August’s jobless remain disproportionately people of color, younger, those previously entry-level workers in face-to-face jobs, and those with a high school diploma or GED. 

Note:Self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers typically ineligible for regular state unemployment (e.g., PUA claimants) are not counted in the monthly unemployment rates.

But even within the segments of the workforce hardest-hit by unemployment, persons of color are more acutely impacted.

  • Travis Co residents with less education than an associate’s degree (39.5%) are disproportionately affected compared to the labor force with this education level (29.1%). The higher the education level, the smaller the impact.
  • Black residents make up 12.8% of the August unemployed compared to 8% in the working-age population. Hispanics also have a higher share of unemployed workers compared to their labor force.
    • See breakdown ↗️
    • Of note: In August 2020, 15.5% of all jobless claimants in Travis Co were black. This share was 16.2% in July. These claimants include those not typically qualified for regular unemployment insurance like self‐employed, gig, and contract workers.

3

Tips and leads for job seekers based on national and local labor analysis

While the job market grinds toward recovery, the workforce is changing, and there are opportunities to learn marketable skills. In a new “American Graduate: Getting to Work” segment, Sabari Raja, CEO of Nepris and Board Member of Workforce Solutions Capital Area, shared local employment perspectives and leads for Central Texas job seekers looking to learn new skills and find employment in today’s workforce.

What to watch for:

  • In a few short weeks, WFS will launch Phase 1 of “Make It Now,” a rapid reskilling initiative with our education partners that updates the Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan for the era of social distancing.
    • Our renewed focus is on safety, speed, and sufficient supports to provide pathways out of poverty for workers in our community who lost jobs because of the pandemic.
  • ACC recently announced 12 fast track programs that allow students to enroll at a 50% discount. 
  • These pathways are in partnership with WFS’ rapid retraining plan and consist of training in phlebotomy, accounting and bookkeeping, certified production technician, and more. 
  • Most of these courses take 3 months or less to complete.  
  • To connect with employers currently hiring, job seekers can visit WFS’ Jobs Now board. New jobs are posted daily. 
    • We’ve had 3,000 positions posted since the pandemic began, from retail bank tellers to warehouse loaders to cloud-computing engineers.
    • While we suspect there are more job postings on other platforms, we verify these are open positions with local companies ready to hire.
  • Visit our Climb the Ladder Central Texas website for tools to help you take your next step, whether going into the workforce, community college, an apprenticeship, or more.

▶️ Watch the full interview here.

What else: WFS also hosts virtual job fairs regularly to connect local people with local companies hiring now. All events are free and open to the public.

  • Oct 15: Fall Forward Virtual Veterans Career Fair connects veterans and transitioning service members with government agencies and private businesses ready to hire. Share the flyer.
    • Employers can register for a free both here.
  • Oct 27: The Texas HireAbility Capital Region Job Fair connects businesses with quality employees who add value to and enhance the workforce. Share the flyer.
    • Employers can register for a free both here.
    • Of note: One in every five Americans (or at least 20% of your workforce) will face a physical or mental disability at least once in their lives.
  • Nov 5: Hiring Red, White, & You: Warrior Welcome Central Texas is our collaboration with five neighboring workforce development board areas forthe largest virtual hiring experience for veterans in the state.

How you can help:

  • Register your business for our job fairsusing the links above.Feel free to reply to this email with any questions you may have.
  • Please share these hiring events to help reach more of our local veterans and disabled workers seeking employment.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (September 26-October 4, 2020)

4 Oct

3-minute read

Good afternoon friends. Join me in wishing a speedy recovery to our President and First Lady.

It was an honor to be joined Wednesday by a star-studded lineup of state/local government, industry, and education leaders at “The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic,” sponsored by Texas Mutual. Over 250 live attendees got a look at our community’s progress toward accomplishing our goal to move 10,000 people out of poverty through training, our regional response to the spike of joblessness in the current pandemic, and how business and government leaders can help Central Texans prepare for the present and the immediate future (watch here ICYMI). I can’t say thank you enough to our fantastic speakers and supporters: Gov. Greg Abbott; Sen. Sarah Eckhardt; TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel and Commissioner Aaron Demerson; Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe; Mayor Steve Adler; ACC Chancellor Richard Rhodes; Texas Mutual President & CEO Rich Gergasko; and WFS Board members including Board Chair Melanie Flowers, Vice-Chair Mark Sherry, Phil Walker, and Thomas Miranda.

Where we are, nearly seven months into the pandemic: Austin (re)employment hasmade dramatic progress in the last few months of the crisis. However, unemployment and jobless claims are still much worse than pre-COVID levels. The boost that government support was providing to the incomes of many Americans has begun to fade. Substantial as the job market rebound has been, it isn’t recovering fast enough to bail out the 70,000 Central Texans out of a job due to the pandemic. But Austin is better prepared than many in our country. Our community was the first to have a strategic plan to guide our workforce development efforts even before this pandemic. And now, we’ve laid out how we can help jobless residents in slow-to-recover sectors receive rapid training and support to transition to those local, growing sectors – like health care, IT, and skilled trades/manufacturing.  

Through it all, we provided a person, a plan, and hope that together we would get through. Rest assured that no matter what, we will continue to connect local people to local jobs.

What could change soon: On Thursday, the House narrowly passed a $2.2T stimulus plan that contained another round of direct one-time payments to individuals, $600 per week federal unemployment benefits, and small business aid. However, the legislation seems to have unclear prospects for final passage. Bipartisan talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to continue. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are out of work and struggling to afford food and rent. Without further aid to help stabilize family budgets and inject consumer spending into the economy, experts say the threat of another wave of layoffs or furloughs looms, as businesses struggle to adjust to lower demand and grapple with revenue losses. It takes compromise from the House, Senate, and White House. We are hopeful they will come together with plans that can help those in need 1) support themselves and 2) get skills for employment in growing sectors of the economy.

Looking ahead: Throughout this pandemic, Workforce Solutions Capital Area continues to connect local people to local jobs. That hasn’t changed. This is the time when our community needs WFS to serve as the hub for bringing educators and training providers, job seekers, and employers together to strengthen our region’s employment ecosystem. Since March, we have provided critical layoff aversion information and tips to dozens of businesses facing uncertain and frightening times. We answered and responded to over 40,000 phone calls and emails from impacted workers. Since June, we re-opened in person to the public and have never stopped serving our community through virtual services. Through it all, we provided a person, a plan, and hope that together we would get through. Rest assured that no matter what, we will continue to connect local people to local jobs. 

In partnership, Tamara 


1

Rapid retraining, upskilling, and more workforce investment is the best ‘Plan Ahead’ for the Austin community, region, and state

On Wednesday, workforce development, economic development, and education leaders gathered for Austin’s annual Community Workforce Plan event,“The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic.”

  • Over 250 live attendees learned about our community’s progress and commitment through Year 2 to lift Austin metro area residents out of poverty.

The headlines:

  • Before COVID, the Community Workforce Plan improved lives through career training, increased job placement, and increased wage increases.
  • Income data shows we have made substantial progress in aligning the disparate pieces of our workforce system.
  • Our goal remains the same: to move 10,000 Austinites out of poverty.
    • We will continue to check our compass and course-correct as we continue on this path.
    • Check out our CWP Year 2 Impact Reportfor the latest measurable performance highlights.
  • Since March, Austin has been digging out of its hole as fewer and fewer Austinites are newly out of a job.
  • But, but, but: It’s also clear that some furloughs, which started as temporary, are now becoming permanent.

So, what’s the ‘plan ahead’?

  • In the post-COVID workforce environment, skills are at a premium. It’s clear to us that you earn what you learn.
  • Yes, but: Many employers in our region struggle to fill critical positions that are middle-skill. These require more than a high school diploma but less than a college degree, such as an industry-recognized certificate.
    • Many residents here may have the experience or specific skills to qualify for these kinds of jobs but lack the credentials to apply.
  • This month, WFS is launching Make It Now, a rapid reskilling initiativewith our education partners.
    • Our renewed focus is on safety, speed, and sufficient supports to provide pathways out of poverty for workers in our community who lost jobs because of the pandemic.
  • Funding will be laser-focused on training that is both fast and offers good wages immediately upon graduation.
    • Thanks to the generosity of the City of Austin and Travis County, the first phase of Make It Now will serve at least 260 low-income individuals who are unemployed due to COVID-19.
    • In addition to the individuals who receive job training and employment through Make It Now, WFS is developing a technology platform with the capacity to connect thousands more to local resources and a better future.

Yes, but: It will take more to scale the plan to reach enough of the thousands of additional local people who have lost jobs amid the pandemic.

  • To fund Phase 2, federal stimulus talks will need to provide workforce development and state and local funds to assist in stimulating the economy.

What they’re saying:

  • Governor Greg Abbott: “Thank you to Workforce Solutions Capital Area for your work to connect Texans in Travis County with training and job opportunities during these difficult times… Working together, we will continue to attract even more investment, more jobs in the Austin area, and we will expand economic opportunity for every Texan.”
  • Senator Sarah Eckhardt: “As federal dollars flow through the Texas Workforce Commission and down to the local workforce boards, I just got to hand it to the locals for STEPPING UP and bringing it, making sure we don’t stop on the federal baseline of unemployment insurance, childcare, and basic workforce skills development. We go the distance on finding employers that will reach out and grab that local talent; will provide apprenticeships; will do the upskilling.”
  • TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel: “This [Make It Now] partnership with Dr. Rhodes at Austin Community College is a great model of how to effectively respond with expedited virtual skills training.”
  • TWC Commissioner Aaron Demerson: “By advancing and training our current workforce, we can fill our high demand, hard to fill roles, increase retention, and open up entry-level opportunities faster for the 50,000 unemployed that we have here in Travis County.”
  • Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe: “Travis County has provided the initial funding out of our CARES Act dollars. We were attracted to the commitment from Workforce Solutions to move at the speed of the need.”
  • City of Austin Mayor Steve Adler: “Helping families earn money through good jobs is a shared responsibility that we all have.”

How you can help:

  • Spread the word about skills training, especially for those out of work.
  • Hire from local education programs. 
  • Grow your talent from within. Invest in skills training, and know that WFS is here to help.
  • If you’re interested in learning more, let’s connect. Feel free to reply to this email.

▶️ Catch the full event and all speakers on YouTube.   


2

Workforce Solutions Capital Area recognizes companies that have invested in their employees’ professional development in inaugural Upskilling HEROES Awards

For building a higher-skilled workforce and a more competitive economy, Workforce Solutions Capital Area awarded five Austin area businesses as the first Upskilling HEROES of Central Texas.

  • This year’s awardees are American Youthworks, Arrive Logistics, Ascension Seton, Austin Western Railroad — Watco Companies, and Patient’s Premier Choice.

Why upskilling matters: With the impacts of COVID-19, many companies are dealing with layoffs and closures. Upskilling provides a pathway for long-term economic growth for individuals, industry, and the region.

  • Through the challenges of the pandemic, these five companies stepped up to maintain and enhance their workforce with upskilling strategies.

The big picture: The five companies’ decision to invest in upgrading the skills of their local workforce addresses critical hiring needs and skill gaps and creates a steady pipeline of pre-vetted talent.

  • They are collectively working to advance145 employees’ skills and invest over $400,000 to upskill their workforce.
  • This work directly contributes to the Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan. 

How you can help:

  • ▶️ Watch our 2020 Upskilling HEROES video to see why upskilling is vital to each company.  
  • Visit our event website to get started with upskilling, get direct assistance, and access our event resources, or shoot me an email of interest.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (September 19-25, 2020)

25 Sep

3-minute read

Good afternoon (and happy Friday!) friends,

Although saddened not to see our friends in person, we were honored to convene for the Workforce Development Executive Council last Wednesday virtually, joined by our region’s industry, government, and education leaders. Facilitated by Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe (special thanks to Sherri Fleming for joining on his behalf), we gave a first look at the state of our local talent pipeline, labor market intelligence for our key industry sectors, and data from the UT Austin Ray Marshall Center as we create shared priorities for our region’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Thank you to our facilitators, Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, Paul Fletcher at Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, Laura Huffman at the Austin Chamber, Colette Pierce Burnette and Wayne Knox at Huston-Tillotson University, and WFS board chair and Samsung exec Melanie Flowers for providing their insights and perspectives.

What we talked about: Specifically, we talked about and initially rolled out the components of our “plan ahead” where we announce the acceleration of a more digital approach to identifying and assisting the jobless. The Statesman’s Bob Sechler profiled the announcement.

Why we talked about it: Last week, TWC announced Austin’s August unemployment rate fell to 5.5%, representing 70,089 jobless residents in the region, down from 12.2% or 138,000 unemployed in April. We’re not out of the woods. Nationally, economists say the pace of job recovery has slowed. Locally, we experience jobless claims still much worse than pre-COVID levels. We are seeing some signs that furloughs are turning into permanent closures, especially as “face-to-face” businesses who must struggle with lagging demand and fixed costs. So we laid out how we can help jobless residents in slow-to-recover sectors quickly receive training and support to transition to those local, growing sectors – like health care, IT, and skilled trades/manufacturing.  

We laid out how we can help jobless residents in slow-to-recover sectors quickly receive training and support to transition to those local, growing sectors – like health care, IT, and skilled trades/manufacturing.  

What could (we hope) change in the next month: Earlier this week, Federal Reserve officials implored Congress to enact more fiscal stimulus to boost the speed of the recovery. With the Lost Wages Assistance program over in Texas after just six weeks, and Congress’ ability to reach a deal unclear at the time of this writing (though we understand the Administration and House Speaker Pelosi are talking and a partisan bill may be on the House floor next week), workers again face the prospect of no additional federal aid. Economists are calling for more economic aid. They say this next leg of the recovery will be much more driven by the economy’s underlying strength rather than businesses just recalling workers.

How you can learn more about our plan: I hope you’ll join us on Sep 30 for our annual Community Workforce Plan event, The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic, sponsored by Texas Mutual. We’ll provide a crisp look at our community’s progress toward accomplishing our goal to move 10,000 people out of poverty through training, our regional response to the spike of joblessness in the current pandemic, and how business and government leaders can help Central Texans prepare for the present and the immediate future (more below).

In partnership, Tamara


1

Pandemic drives changes to Austin worker training plan

Updated for the era of social distancing, our Community Workforce Plan has undergone something of a transformation. We now have the opportunity to do more to help the region recover from the ongoing global pandemic.

  • The new part of the plan is rapid retraining in a digital environment, emphasizing safety, speed, and sufficient supports to provide pathways out of poverty for impacted workers in our community who lost jobs because of the pandemic.
    • The training, provided by post-secondary education and training partners, will give recipients the skills needed to move back to their previous industry move to more resilient industries targeted in the CWP, such as IT, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.
  • The City of Austin and Travis County have earmarked $3.17M combined to help with the initial phase.
    • Phase 1 is being designed to provide services and technology infrastructure for several hundred local people to receive safe, high-quality training at no cost, with related support like stipends, transportation, and childcare as needed.
  • But it will take more to scale the plan up to reach enough of the thousands of additional local people who have lost jobs amid the pandemic.
    • To fund Phase 2, federal stimulus talks will need to provide workforce development and state and local funds to assist in stimulating the economy.
  • WFS will officially unveil the details of the new plan Sep 30, during our webcast event featuring state and local elected officials and many area business leaders.

What they’re saying:

  • John Hockenyos, president of Austin-based economic analysis firm TXP Inc: “What it does is give people who might have been in those (industries) other options. Demand (for workers in such sectors) may never get back to where it was, or it could take years to get back.”

Austin/Travis County by the numbers:

  • Last week, unemployment in Travis Co only decreased from 6.9% in July to 5.6% in August, representing 43,289 jobless residents. The overall Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is slightly lower at 5.5% or 70,089 jobless residents.
    • Self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers typically ineligible for regular state unemployment are not counted in the monthly unemployment rates.
    • In August, there were 6,521 total PUA/DUA and self-employed claims in Travis Co. Between March 1 to August 31 2020, there were 52,398 unique DUA/PUA and self-employed filers.
  • Since March, areas most affected by unemployment are Pflugerville, South Austin, and South Congress zip codes. 
    • Pflugerville has one of the largest zip code populations, and has always been vulnerable to unemployment and continues to be the most impacted zip code.
  • New job postings are out there: 16,717 new job ads were posted in the Austin metro from September 1-21, 2020 (down 3,030 compared to the same period in 2019)
    • With the allowance for elective surgeries, not surprisingly, three of the top five companies with the most job openings are in the healthcare sector (Hospital Corporation of America, Ascension, Baylor Scott & White)
    • Three of the top five certifications in greatest demand are healthcare-related (RN, CPR/First Aid/AED, Basic Life Saving)
  • WFS’ Jobs Now board had more than 3,000 jobs posted since the pandemic began, from retail bank tellers to warehouse loaders to cloud-computing engineers.

WFS in the news: Last week, we were honored to help drive the conversationon Austin employment and how we’re helping connect neighbors to training, childcare, and jobs:


2

Survey: Half of Texas restaurants may not survive the pandemic

Half of the restaurant operators in Texas expect their businesses to close within six months without additional federal relief. Nearly as many expect their businesses will go under if current business conditions don’t improve between now and March. 

According to a new National Restaurant Association survey of Texas restaurant owners:

  • 90% said total sales in August were below what was generated in August 2019.
    • Overall sales were down 33% on average compared to the same month a year ago.
  • 73% said that their operational costs have gone up while revenue has gone down since the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • More than 70% said they don’t expect their sales to return to pre-coronavirus levels before second quarter 2019.
  • Last year, the restaurant and food service sector accounted for more than 1.3M jobs in the state. That figure is now closer to 1.1M.
    • 35% do not expect their staffing levels to return to pre-COVID levels within six months. 
    • Worse yet, nearly 20% expect they will have to lay off or furlough more workers.

Yes, and: There are 2x the number of unemployed Austinitespreviously in face-to-face food service, retail, and hospitality occupations than available jobs in this sector in a July snapshot. See breakdown ↗️


3

WFS posts RFQ for tech sector consulting services

WFS is seeking quotes from qualified individuals/entities to lead our staff in establishing, nurturing, and growing productive industry sector partnerships in the IT/tech sector.

  • See the full RFQ here (Deadline: Oct 22).

How you can help: Please consider responding to our request or sharing it with your colleagues. Feel free to email me with any questions.

Of note: To address a crucial need in our community, we’ve joined forces with Austin Chamber and Google to support Grow with Google, an initiative to create economic opportunities for all.

  • The Google Career Certificates program fosters opportunity for non-traditional IT workers to kickstart a technical career
    • The program is product agnostic and designed to upskill people across many sectors.
  • Employers are invited to participate in connecting with skilled candidates and growing your talent pipeline.
  • See our webinar with Austin Chamber, Google, Goodwill, and WPEngine to learn more.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (September 14-18, 2020)

18 Sep

3-minute read

Good afternoon friends,

Austin has been digging out of its economic hole. On Friday, TWC announced Austin’s August unemployment rate fell to 5.5%, representing 70,089 jobless residents, with continued fewer and fewer Austinites newly out of a job. However, it’s important to note that today’s August unemployment rate is a lagging indicator, so it does not include September layoffs and permanent company closures, nor gig and self-employed workers who are typically ineligible for traditional state benefits. As we all know, facts can change quickly on the ground.

The other side: Even though we’ve partially rebounded from April and our worst-ever unemployment numbers, it’s also clear that furloughs, which started as temporary, are now becoming permanent. And with the federal Lost Wages Assistance program’s $300 per week stipend expiring after just six weeks, there is no additional assistance stipend for the jobless unless Congress and the White House act to pass an additional federal stimulus package. Though facts can change quickly on the ground, the consensus on Capitol Hill is the odds are low new stimulus will get signed before November 3 election day. Without an appropriation to continue the stipend, the demand for WFS services — job matching and training support — is expected to surge.

Even though we’ve partially rebounded from April and our worst-ever unemployment numbers, it’s also clear that furloughs, which started as temporary, are now becoming permanent.

The bright side: As employers in struggling sectors can no longer keep their businesses afloat, WFS is here to help people in a struggling sector get the supports they need to train into other growing sectors. And amid uncertainty at the federal level, praises are due to Gov. Abbott and our friends at the Texas Workforce Commission for being one of the first states to ask for and then swiftly delivering that $300 per week stipend to our jobless. Some of my peers told me their states have yet to issue the stipends to impacted workers. We spoke to some local claimants that began receiving their first week of the enhanced benefits promptly. Many claimants have actually received all six weeks of benefits at this point. 

I hope you’ll join us on Sep 30 for our annual Community Workforce Plan event, The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic, sponsored by Texas Mutual. We’ll provide a crisp look at our community’s progress toward accomplishing our goal to move 10,000 people out of poverty through training, our regional response to the spike of joblessness in the current pandemic, and how business and government leaders can help Central Texans prepare for the present and the immediate future. We have amazing speakers (see our full list here), including Gov. Greg Abbott, Senator Sarah Eckhardt, Texas Workforce Commission Chair Bryan Daniel, Texas Workforce Commissioner Demerson, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, and many more state and local leaders.

In partnership, Tamara


1

Austin unemployment rate falls to 5.5% in August 2020, but job postings continue to lag behind 2019 levels

Good news: According to the latest figures released by TWC on 9/18, the unemployment rate for Texas (7%) is below the national unemployment rate (8.5%).

  • August unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis Co decreased from 6.9% in July to 5.6% in August, representing 43,289 jobless residents. 
  • The overall August Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is slightly lower at 5.5% or 70,089 jobless residents.
  • Of note: Self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers typically ineligible for regular state unemployment (e.g., PUA claimants) are not counted in the monthly unemployment rates.
  • Read more in our Newsroom.

Austin/Travis County by the numbers:

Non-traditional claimants typically ineligible for unemployment benefits are represented in the below data.

  • While unemployment improved, new unemployment claims rose slightly from July, with 9,419 (+246)approved claims in August 2020.
  • Fewer jobs are available than a year ago:
    • 24,260 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA in August 2020 (-7,759 from August 2019).
    • There was a 20.3% decline in new job postings when comparing the first week of August with the second week of September.
    • Compared to pre-COVID January 2020, job postings are down 36.1% in the second week of September.
    • 10,860 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA from September 1-13, 2020 (-175 compared to the same period in 2019).
  • Job openings are wide-ranging:
    • The region’s top hiring occupation groups in August were in IT (3,255),  sales and related (2,809), management (2,778), office and admin support (2,474), and healthcare practitioners and technical (1,682).
    • Top hiring companies were Ascension Seton (381), UT (210), IBM (198), Amazon (174), and Hospital Corporation of America (170).
  • 3,000+ positions have been posted to WFS’ Jobs Now board since the pandemic began, from retail bank tellers to warehouse loaders to cloud-computing engineers. We verify these are open positions with local companies that are ready to hire.
  • 5 workforce boards (Capital Area, Rural Capital, Alamo, Central Texas, and Heart of Texas) are banding together to host Hiring Red, White & You: Warrior Welcome Central Texasthe largest virtual hiring experience for veterans in the state.

2

Of the 145k unemployment claimants in Travis Co from March to August, “face-to-face” hospitality and accommodation workers are more likely to still be unemployed

WFS recently completed an analysis to see how many laid-off workers from different occupational backgrounds have been re-employed after applying for jobless benefits. WFS is actively looking at unemployment benefits trends to better connect low-income and jobless Austinites to rapid training into high-growth industries, in higher-paying jobs.

  • Since the first week of March to the last week of August, there have been over 145,000 new unemployment claims in Travis Co.
  • As of August 30, 34% of claimants, or about 50,000 individuals, have been verified as returned to work.
  • Of those assumed to still be out of work, 70% were previously in food service occupations, 66% in retail, and 74% in personal care occupations.

3

How WFS, ACC, and CBOs are helping Central Texans get back to work through rapid training

To help rapidly re-employ the unemployed, ACC is slashing tuition for several programs related to the area’s highest-demand sectors, including health care, IT, and skilled trades.

  • ACC recently announced 12 fast track programs that allow students to enroll at a 50% discount. 
    • ACC’s fast track training pathways include phlebotomy, accounting and bookkeeping, certified production technician, and more. 
    • Most of these courses take 3 months or less to complete.
  • ACC is also working with us and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area to link students with available jobs.
  • Read more about ACC’s fast track options here.

What they’re saying:

Yes, but: According to Strada Education, fewer than 1 in 3 American adults without degrees say they understand available career pathways, valuable skills, and details about potential education programs “very well.”

  • In response, we have big news coming. Please tune in to our Sep 30 event to learn more!

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (September 8-13, 2020)

13 Sep

3-minute read

Good afternoon Austin leaders and friends,

In July (our most recent data available), at least 50,000 Travis Co residents are on jobless benefits. Pandemic stipends of $600 per week were paid until July 25, when their authorization expired. As of September 5, the President’s additional $300 per week in pandemic or “lost wages” assistance applied for by Gov. Greg Abbott expired, unfortunately, after just six weeks. Congress and the White House have shown few signs that an additional stimulus is in our near-term future. We know that many in our community are struggling financially. Many still jobless were employed in “face-to-face” retail, accommodation, food service, and entertainment sectors in danger of longer-term or even permanent loss. Many have fears of the virus re-spreading and overall anxiety about the future. Many people are waiting for some sense of re-assurance and what they should do now. 

Due to support from the City of Austin and Travis County, I am proud that Workforce Solutions will be able to rapidly roll out our Phase 1 strategy to move several hundred jobless residents into restructured, rapid, and safe training programs to help them earn more money in the new year. This support will come in the form of a financial stipend and a la carte supports in career advising, childcare, digital inclusion, and transportation.

As of September 5, the President’s additional $300 per week in pandemic or “lost wages” assistance applied for by Gov. Greg Abbott expired, unfortunately, after just six weeks.

I hope you’ll join us on Sep 30 for our annual Community Workforce Plan event, The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic. In a time more urgent than ever, we’ll provide a crisp look at our community’s progress toward accomplishing our goal to move 10,000 people out of poverty through training, our regional response to the spike of joblessness in the current pandemic, and how business and government leaders can help Austin prepare for the present and the immediate future. State and local leaders — including Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Bryan Daniel, Senator Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, Mayor Steve Adler, and more — will also present the latest labor exchange information, innovation, and how forward-thinking policy can help us rapidly scale our Phase 1 effort (more below). 

In partnership, Tamara


1

A closer look at Travis County’s 50,485 July unemployed residents, and how people of color are disproportionately impacted

As in our preliminary analysis of June’s laid-off workers, the unemployed in July are disproportionately persons of color, younger, were previously entry-level workers in face-to-face jobs, and have a high school diploma or GED. WFS will continue to analyze unemployment and jobless claimant data to better serve and understand our community’s needs.

Note: Self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers typically ineligible for regular state unemployment (e.g., PUA claimants) are not counted in the monthly unemployment rates.

  • Residents ages 16-34 make up over half (51.4%) of the July unemployed, compared to 30.6% of the labor force. 
  • Travis Co residents with less education than an associate’s degree (39.5%) are disproportionately affected compared to the labor force with this education level (29.1%). The higher the education level, the smaller the impact.
  • One in four unemployed Travis Co residents were previously in food service, retail, and personal care occupations.
    • 2.6% were previously in healthcare occupations.
    • 2.4% were previously in IT occupations.
  • Travis Co industries with the most June unemployment are Unknown (8,888); Retail (5,659); Professional, Scientific, and Tech (5,046); and Accommodation and Food Services (4,786).

And people of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by unemployment:

  • Black residents make up 12.8% of the July unemployed compared to 8% in the working-age population, according to Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights.
    • See breakdown ↗️
    • Of note: In July 2020, 16.2% of all jobless claimants in Travis Co were black. These claimants include those not typically qualified for regular unemployment insurance like self‐employed, gig, and contract workers.
  • Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to have less education than their white counterparts.
    • Of the July unemployed, 48% of Blacks and 63.7% of Hispanics have a high school diploma, GED, or less, compared to 23.3% of Whites.
    • See breakdown ↗️
  • Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to have previously worked in the hardest-hit industries — Retail, Accommodation, and Food Services.
    • Of the July unemployed whose previous industry is known, 30.3% of Blacks, 27.3% of Hispanics, and 22.6% of Whites were previously in the Retail, Accommodation, and Food Services industries, regardless of occupation.
    • Roughly 25% of the July unemployed in Travis Co were previously in these industries.

2

FEMA ends $300 per week Lost Wages Assistance program after six weeks of payments

On Sep 9, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informed TWC that the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program ends with the benefit week ending Sep 5, 2020. There is no additional assistance stipend for the jobless unless Congress and the White House act to pass an additional federal stimulus package.

  • LWA provided an additional $300 a week to qualified unemployment claimants, above Texas’ current unemployment benefits.
  • Because FEMA’s funds were limited, TWC cannot extend payments beyond that date without further federal action.
    • TWC will continue to pay eligible claimants for the six benefit weeks FEMA approved (from Aug 1 to Sep 5), for as long as the existing federal funds deposited to TWC remain available. 
  • The Lost Wages Assistance Program was a temporary provision established after the expiration of the $600 pandemic stipend, a part of the CARES Act.
    • Other provisions of the federal act do not expire until Dec 26, 2020. This includes Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides an extra 13 weeks of benefits to those who exhaust traditional benefits, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides up to 46 weeks of benefits to those who are self-employed or typically ineligible for state benefits. 

The big picture: With high levels of unemployment and relatively few job openings in the “face-to-face” sector, and with little uptake on rapid job training for these workers to change industries, a significant cut in take-home will begin once more for Austin’s jobless claimants.

  • Without an appropriation to continue the stipend, the demand for WFS services — job matching and training support — is expected to surge.

3

How Travis County and City of Austin ‘Phase 1’ funding awarded to WFS will connect Austin’s jobless and low-income to career training, supports, and employment

Thanks to unanimous support last week from Travis County Commissioners Court and Austin City Council, WFS has secured Phase 1 funds to establish a marketing and tech infrastructure to help low-income and jobless Austinites.

  • The Phase 1-funded tech hub will allow WFS to communicate with area jobless, solicit their engagement in rapid training, and provide more closely knit training, support, and a stipend for250+ lower-income residents to transition into higher-paying, growing industry and business sector jobs.
  • The requested high-quality, no-cost, safe training funded in Phase 1 is intended to result in jobs that pay at least $35,000 – $45,000+ per year after training completion. 
    • WFS is working with ACC and CBOs to develop a list of eligible training providers who can provide rapid, safe, high-quality trainings that meet the expectations for local jobs in growing industries.
  • WFS has also designed and will resource a complimentary wrap-around, customized services approach.
    • This wrap-around approach will provide those enrolled and attending designated trainings with: 1) a stipend above state unemployment, or any future federal stipend, if eligible, and 2) training supports as needed, including transportation, childcare, digital inclusion, and career navigation and job placement support.

Yes, but: To fund Phase 2,federal stimulus talks will need to provide workforce development and state and local funds to assist in stimulating the economy.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (August 31-September 7, 2020)

7 Sep

2-minute read

Happy Labor Day!

Today, we honor the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. But at least 50,000 Austinites are out of work and struggling to make ends meet, especially those in face-to-face industries like hospitality and accommodation. More urgent than ever, WFS’ role for our labor force is to lift our neighbors up, connect them to the (re)training they need, and fill the talent gaps we see in hot Community Workforce Plan industries — IT, healthcare, and skilled trades/manufacturing.

In three weeks, on September 30, WFS will host the 2020 installment of our annual Community Workforce Plan event, The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic.

In three weeks, on September 30, WFS will host the 2020 installment of our annual Community Workforce Plan event, The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic. This virtual event – open to the public – is where we look at our community’s progress toward accomplishing our goal to move 10,000 people out of poverty through training. We will look at the status of the Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan, our regional response to the spike of joblessness in the current pandemic, and how business and government leaders can help Austin prepare for the present and the immediate future. We’re honored to be joined by Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, workforce champions who authorized Phase 1 funding for WFS to rapidly support and (re)train hundreds of Central Texans for hire at higher wages. State and local leaders will also present the latest labor exchange information, innovation, and how forward-thinking policy can help us rapidly scale our Phase 1 efforts (more below).

Although this event is virtual, be sure to register early to ensure your “seat.” Please let me know if you have any questions/comments.

In partnership, Tamara


1

Since the pandemic began in March, Austin’s unemployed Hospitality & Accommodation workers far outweigh this sector’s available jobs

Comparing jobless talent to available jobs from March 1 – July 31, we see a pronounced need to retrain entry-level workers previously in face-to-face jobs into higher-wage jobs in growing industries.

  • Food service, retail, and accommodation: There were 7x more new jobless claimants (48,423) than new job ads (6,836).

Looking at July 1-31, we still see a much larger need for talent in the high-demand Healthcare and IT sectors than hospitality jobs.

  • IT: There were 14x more new job ads than new jobless claimants previously in this sector. If you add in open positions posted before July, the difference is even more significant.
    • From March to July 2020, only 2% of unemployed claimants in Travis Co previously worked in IT.
  • Healthcare: There were6x more new job ads than new jobless claimants who previously worked in this sector.
  • Food service, retail, and accommodation: There were 1.7x more new job ads than new jobless claimants (Note: continued claims are not included in this data).

2

Despite high jobless numbers, the Austin region still has areas where we need to (re)train more skilled talent

Even in this COVID-economy, recently updated data confirms that the Austin region continues to have a current and projected need for more skilled talent in Community Workforce Plan targeted industries.

  • In a recently completed WFS labor supply analysis, we project we will need more skilled talent in IThealthcare, and skilled trades/manufacturing.
    • Although the manufacturing-related production occupations are projected to be oversupplied in the Austin region, local employers report these occupations will be in greater demand once Tesla begins hiring for their new gigafactory and hiring expands at BAE Systems.
  • Skills gaps: Based on data from January to March 2020, many skills in shortage fall within the skilled trades, except for data analysis, bilingual, and aseptic technique (preventing contamination in healthcare settings).
  • Foundational skill gaps: In 2020, nine of the top 10 in-demand skill clusters (which prepare people to enter the workforce either at an entry-level or during career changes) are IT-related and are projected to rapidly grow nationally and globally.
  • Healthcare- and IT-related skills directly tied to WFS’ targeted occupations list are projected to snowball between 2019-2021 in the region.

The big picture: To prepare Austin for the workforce of the future, the Community Workforce Plan’s focus on high-growth, in-demand career pathways (in IT, healthcare, skilled trades, and manufacturing) continues to provide a vital roadmap to improve the lives of thousands of lower-income Austinites, now and in the years to come.


3

WFS launches digital, interactive workbook for high school and middle school students to explore in-demand careers

WFS is helping middle and high school students prepare for in-demand careers. With the start of virtual school last month, we pivoted our content and materials to help local students see which local jobs are growing and which can earn them higher wages. Introducing our Explore Careers workbooks:

  • Our digital workbooks offer career exploration tools for middle and high school students to learn about career endorsements for high school and career pathways beyond graduation.
  • These workbooks direct students to online career assessments, career videos, soft skills training, resume building, and more, allowing more avenues to connect with our services.
  • The workbooks were used digitally during the spring 2020 school semester. Today, over 9,000 copies have been printed to distribute to students in local school districts.

How you can help:

  • Download our workbooks hereand please share them with your colleagues.
  • Please share climbtheladderctx.comwith those you know who are looking for their next step, whether going into the workforce, community college, an apprenticeship, or more.
  • Please shoot me a message with your feedback on the site or other resources you’d like to see.

Austin Community College slashing tuition for fast-track CE training programs

2 Sep

AUSTIN, Texas — To help Central Texans get back to work, Austin Community College (ACC) is slashing tuition for several programs related to the highest-demand sectors in the area, including health care, IT and skilled trades.

The courses, many of which can be completed in just three months, are part of ACC’s entry-level fast-track programs offered through the college’s Continuing Education Division (CE). Between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, ACC is cutting tuition by half.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (August 23-29, 2020)

29 Aug

3-minute read

Good afternoon,

As I’ve reported here over the past few months, federal funding for our critical job training programs will be cut at the same time unemployment — still more than 2.5x the pre-COVID rate — has rocked our region. Along with many at WFS, I have sounded the alarm about the additional resources needed to help our community connect to training and jobs.

I’m honored to share this good news: In the last two weeks, Austin City Council awarded WFS $1.37M, and Travis Co awarded $1.8M (effective Oct 1 and Sep 1, respectively) to help us rapidly implement our Phase 1 plan to (re)train hundreds of Central Texans for hire at higher wages. Along with gratitude for our Mayor and City Council members, a special thanks to Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion, a long-time workforce champion who dug into the details and worked to achieve a unanimous vote at Travis County. We will be able to do a lot of good with these Phase 1 funds — our local leaders’ trust in WFS is truly humbling. 

In the last two weeks, Austin City Council awarded WFS $1.37M, and Travis Co awarded $1.8M to help us rapidly implement our Phase 1 plan to (re)train hundreds of Central Texans for hire at higher wages.

In 2017, we first launched our strategic Community Workforce Plan. To move 10,000 people out of poverty and into good, middle-wage jobs, our community banded together to do what no other Texas Workforce Board had done before. But one of the impediments was sufficient resources. Today, these new contracts are the accelerants poured on our strategic plan, fueling our efforts toward a much more significant impact. Phase 1 funding awarded will help us complete the build-out of the infrastructure. But to fund Phase 2 (designed to yield the training enrollments to accomplish the rising targets in our plan), we need a federal stimulus that includes state/local workforce funds. We will be ready.

WFS is committed to driving our community to reach our collective workforce goals and achieve outcomes. We stand unwavering by our mission for better jobs, better services, and better lives for ALL our neighbors. We connect local people to local jobs.

In partnership, Tamara


1

The lowest-income Austinites don’t qualify for additional $300 per week pandemic stipend

TWC estimates nearly 350,000 (or 20%) of Texas jobless claimants don’t qualify for the federal $300 pandemic stipend because they either earned too little from the work they lost or didn’t indicate on their unemployment claim that they lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

  • Those earning less than $100 a week in unemployment benefits — likely lower-wage or part-time workers — are ineligible for the extra payment, as required by the Presidential Memoranda signed August 8.
    • Others aren’t eligible because they didn’t state when they filed for unemployment benefits that they lost their jobs because of the pandemic. They can qualify by making that adjustment to their filing status.
  • In July, half of the jobless claimants in Travis County earned less than $30,000 while they were working. 73% earned less than $50,000.
  • Yes, and: A recent study places Austin as the least livable city for lower-wage workers — minimum wage workers in Austin need to work 37 hours each week just to cut a rent check.
  • Of note: Texas is one of only three states to begin paying extra unemployment benefits. However, states approved for the unemployment benefit program are issued a grant for just three weeks of benefits.
    • Subsequent weeks would be approved by the Administration on a weekly basis to make sure there are enough funds for other states.
    • Analysts at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the $44B the President has tapped for these payments would last only about five weeks before running out.
    • Given these Lost Wages benefits are backdated to August 1, it’s unclear how long these Texas payments can continue.

Austin/Travis County by the numbers:

  • Last week, unemployment in Travis Co decreased from 7.5% in June to 6.9% in July, representing 50,485 jobless residents. The overall Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is slightly lower at 6.7%, or 81,942 jobless residents.
    • Self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers typically ineligible for regular state unemployment (e.g. DUA/PUA claimants) are not counted in the monthly unemployment rates.
    • In July, there were 3,536 total PUA/DUA claims in Travis Co. Between March 1 to July 31 2020, there were 35,470 unique DUA/PUA filers.
  • 19,280 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA from August 1-26, 2020 (-7,739 compared to the same period in 2019)
    • Top hiring occupation groups were in IT (2,580), retail (2,247), management (2,164), office and admin support (2,029), and healthcare (1,357).
  • WFS’ Jobs Now board had more than 2,000 job postings as of Aug. 25, from retail bank tellers to warehouse loaders to cloud-computing engineers.
  • WFS launched 3 healthcare-focused hiring initiatives with Baylor Scott & White Health, St. David’s HealthCare, and Integral Care.
    • Help us spread the word – see our upcoming job fairs and virtual info sessions here.

WFS in the news: Last week, we were honored to help drive the conversationon Austin employment and how we’re helping connect neighbors to training, childcare, and jobs:


2

WFS launches Climb the Ladder CTX for secondary students and adults seeking new careers

In time for the new school year, career-exploring students and adults can now explore high-demand occupations virtually through our new microsite at climbtheladderctx.com.

  • We made it easy to find critical resources from a single landing page, including digital workbooks, videos with industry partners, and more.
    • This microsite is a low-cost, agile way to share our resources with students who are learning virtually and job seekers who can’t visit our career centers as easily for assistance with their job search.
    • Tools for educators and employers will be added soon, with opportunities to engage with students and job seekers through career fairs, teacher externships, and more.
  • This website will plug into our rapid (re)train and (re)hire initiative, helping us better customize our supports and increase avenues to connect with our services for K-12 and adults.
  • Browse Climb the Ladder CTX to learn more about in-demand career pathways in our region and connect with our educators to learn more about the resources available to you.

How you can help:

  • Please share climbtheladderctx.com with those you know who are looking for their next step, whether going into the workforce, community college, an apprenticeship, or more.
  • Please shoot me a message with your feedback on the site or other resources you’d like to see.

What’s next:

  • Website redesign: WFS is redesigning our main website to improve user experience and content delivery. Set to launch early October.
  • Technology hub: We are actively working towards a technology solution to accommodate the thousands of clients who will seek services from us, whether jobs or education.

3

Austin’s child care providers receive cleaning supplies at no cost from Workforce Solutions Capital Area

To help area child care providers maintain safe and clean centers during the COVID-19 pandemic, our Child Care Services team held a cleaning supplies pickup event on August 21-22 at the Travis County Purchasing Warehouse.

  • Ensuring families have access to safe, quality, and affordable child care is an essential part of our work to support parents learning new skill sets to pursue a new career or return to work.
  • Child care providers have experienced dramatic changes in demand and enrollment, putting tremendous strains on their ability to stay in business.
  • 153 providers from all around the Austin metro area signed up.
  • Providers received pallet-sized orders of cleaning supplies — everything from dish soap, sanitizing wipes, gloves, paper towels, and more — at no cost.
  • We sorted and prepared thousands of pounds of supplies ahead of the pickup days—25,277 pounds, to be exact!

What they’re saying:

  • Brianna Hodges for Prodigy Child Development Center, with 83 children in care: “When I heard about this event, I was excited! My prayers have been answered. This is tremendous help. We are excited to do a deep clean and maintain health and safety.”
  • Jeannie Young for Eanes Independent School District, which has two centers with almost 85 children in care: “When we closed in March, we left on spring break and never went back. Now we are reopening, and one of our concerns was, ‘do we have enough supplies to truly operate.’ This is a really wonderful gift to make sure we start our year strong, and we have plenty of supplies to keep us going while we build up our stock.”
  • Read more here, and check out our photo gallery on Facebook.

Austin’s Child Care Providers Receive Cleaning Supplies at No Cost from Workforce Solutions Capital Area

27 Aug
Workforce Solutions staff help load cleaning supplies

To assist Austin’s child care providers with maintaining safe and clean centers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Child Care Services team held a cleaning supplies pickup event on August 21 and 22 at the Travis County Purchasing Warehouse. One hundred fifty-three providers from all around the Austin metro area signed up.

Providers received pallet-sized orders of cleaning supplies—everything from dish soap, sanitizing wipes, gloves, paper towels and more—at no cost. Our team sorted and prepared thousands of pounds of supplies ahead of the pickup days—25,277 pounds, to be exact!

One of the participating centers was Eanes Independent School District, which has two centers with almost 85 children in care, according to Jeannie Young, Child Development Center Coordinator.

“When we closed in March, we left on spring break and never went back. Now we are reopening and one of our concerns was do we have enough supplies to truly operate,” Jeannie said.

“This is a really wonderful gift to make sure we start our year strong and we have plenty of supplies to keep us going while we build up our stock,” she said.

Brianna Hodges is the Center Director at Prodigy Child Development Center, with 83 children in care. “When I heard about this event, I was excited! My prayers have been answered. This is tremendous help,” she said.

What will get cleaned first? “Everything—toys, walls, I mean it all. It all will be cleaned; we are excited to do a deep clean and maintain health and safety,” Brianna said.

“We are very thankful. Thank you again for helping us out and helping our children maintain safety in such a hard time,” said Brianna.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area is committed to supporting providers in Austin who care for the children of our region’s workforce. By providing care in a safe and nurturing environment, Austin’s child care providers are helping to develop a future workforce that is skilled and productive. Learn more about how we support child care providers on our website.