Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (June 22-28, 2020)

28 Jun

2-minute read

Good afternoon,

As of June 19, Travis Co still has more than 80k of our friends and neighbors out of work, and Central Texas has more than 130k. Half of the jobless claimants earned up to $30k at the time of their employment dislocation. Three-quarters earned up to $50k. 

Unlike the previous recession, this one is hitting lower-income, service economy workers in their 20’s harder than anyone else. In line with ongoing efforts to move people out of poverty through the Master Community Workforce Plan, Austin/Travis Co has a lot of motivation to provide strong career opportunities and ladders for our local people in growing industries. 

We look forward to developing a partnership agreement with Travis County and Tesla in coming weeks to identify our friends and neighbors and help connect them to agile, rapid job training and supports — such as child care, transportation, and employment services — in preparation for these up to 5,000 job opportunities.

Below, find our latest job postings trend analysis (showing promising signs in Master Plan target industries), catch up quick on policy changes, and hear from those we serve who are and will be affected.


1

Which industries are hiring now? June 2020 employers post more job across all industries than a year ago

While May 2020 job postings lagged 8% compared to a year before, June 2020 saw a pick-up and exceeded June 2019. So employers are currently attempting to hire with roughly 6x the number of unemployed as openings, and this is changing in real-time based upon government and business responses to COVID.

  • Healthcare made up roughly 18% of postings,though the Governor’s order Thursday to end elective surgeries in Travis Co will introduce additional uncertainty.
  • Skilled Trades job postings have continued to keep pace with postings from the red hot market of June 2019.
  • Service industry: There was an overall uptick in job postings for limited-service restaurant, supermarket, and full-service restaurant industries, though Fridays decision to close bars will introduce additional uncertainty into getting people back to work.
  • Technology and Skilled Trades seem to be the most resilient industries targeted in the Master Plan, having the most consistent hiring patterns by month compared to 2019.
    • Only 2% of the jobless were previously employed in IT occupations.
  • Manufacturing, which represents about 7% of all job postings, maintains a similar average of job postings compared to pre-COVID.

2

Catch up quick: COVID-19 workforce policy changes

Weekly, if not daily, policy changes in response to COVID-19 have kept us and those we serve on our toes. Here’s the latest scheduled effective dates and why they matter:

Child care policy: This pandemic is making clear people can go back to work if they have childcare. We continue to respond to a high call volume from parents — who are trying to go back to work — regarding these changes.

  • TWC announced they will reinstate attendance requirements for subsidized child care starting July 20.
    • Children in subsidized child care programs are generally allowed 40 unexplained absences during a year. This requirement will be reinstated, but due to the disruption of COVID, all children’s absences will be reset to zero on July 20.
  • As of June 25, Texas is reinstating COVID safety measures for child care centers that had been repealed in mid-June.
    • The repeal of safety mandates caused concerns in the industry, and we are beginning to see clusters (3 or more infected) in centers.
  • Parent Share of Cost, where parents receiving financial assistance are required to pay for a portion of their costs, was reinstated June 1.

Unemployment benefits policy: I anticipate these scheduled policy changes will dramatically increase the number of unemployed workers seeking our job matching and training services.

  • July 6 is when work-search requirements, where the jobless are required tosearch for work to receive unemployment benefits, will be reinstated.
  • July 25 is the last date the additional $600/week federal disaster-related benefits will be issued. 

3

Scoop: How policy changes are impacting Austin residents and child care providers

As our centers opened last week for jobless clients to come into our office by appointment only (and at 25% capacity), here’s what we are seeing and hearing:

  • Foot traffic in our career centers has mostly been low, but steady, while call volume continues to be high.
    • We field and initiate over 500 calls a day.
    • We continue to explore ways to effectively engage our customers remotely so they can choose to participate at home or visit the centers based on need.
  • The hot topic for parents and providers is guidance on transferring to another child care center if a child is exposed to COVID in their previous center.
    • We’re currently updating our transfer policy alongside our providers to ensure everyone’s safety. 
    • In the meantime, we are not processing transfer requests immediately if we know the center the family is leaving has confirmed cases.
    • Nine child care centers in our network were temporarily closed last week due to a concerning case. This number is likely to rise as Austin experiences a COVID spike.
    • Meanwhile, 60% of our providers that usually operate in the summer are open.
  • Subsidized child care providers shared strong concerns with us on the potential impact of both repealing safety precautions and reinstating required attendance.
  • One provider told us that if these changes went live right now, they’d cancel their contract with WFS and transfer subsidy program kids out to lessen exposure.

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