Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (July 12-19, 2020)

12 Jul

2-minute read

Good afternoon,

There was encouraging news last week for Austin, with the announcement of Amazon’s 1,000-job Pflugerville fulfillment center, and the June unemployment rate falling to 7.5%. However, last month’s unemployment is still more than triple where we were before the pandemic began in February (2.6%).

With high unemployment and relatively few job openings, there’s also a significant cut in benefit payments coming next week when the $600/week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation stipend ends. This cut will be felt hardest by the +75% of Travis County residents who previously earned less than $50,000. Workforce Solutions Capital Area is here to help connect local people to agile, rapid job training and supports — such as childcare, transportation, and employment services.

This cut will be felt hardest by the +75% of Travis County residents who previously earned less than $50,000.

Below, you’ll find the latest unemployment data for Texas and quickly catch up on policy changes and reemployment funding outlook. Please let me know if you have any questions.

In partnership, Tamara


1

Austin unemployment rate continues to fall, but jobs outlook remains cloudy, as unemployment reaches 7.5% in June 2020

According to the latest figures released by TWC on 7/16, the unemployment rate for Texas (8.9%) is below the national unemployment rate (11.2%).

  • June unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis Co decreased from 11.6% in May, to 7.6% in June, representing 55,642 residents who have applied for jobless benefits.
  • The overall June Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is slightly lower at 7.5%, or 90,887 jobless residents.
  • Read more in our Newsroom.

Austin/Travis County by the numbers:

Non-traditional claimants typically ineligible for unemployment benefits (such as self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers) are represented in the below data.

  • 24,875 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA in June.
    • Top hiring occupation groups include food service, retail, and accommodation (5,141); IT (4,449); and skilled trade and manufacturing (3,617).
  • In line with bar closures ordered by the Governor, Austin’s accommodation industry has seen a 32% decrease in job postings since the end of June.
  • 40+ employers have registered to participate in our next virtual job fair scheduled for July 23.
  • 28 employers joined for our last virtual career fair, hiring for 187 open positions. 
  • Our published report features employment data from June 1 – 31 by occupation and demographic for Capital Area/Travis Co.

2

Catch up quick: COVID-19 workforce policy and funding changes

Here’s the latest scheduled effective dates and why they matter:

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 25 is the cutoff date for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program benefits, which provides an additional $600 per week on top of the state’s standard unemployment payments, which can amount from $69-$521 per week, depending on an applicant’s former income.
    • The $600/wk decrease in benefits payments will be felt more acutely by the +75% of unemployed Travis Co residents who previously earned less than $50,000 per year.
  • Work-search requirements, where Texans must be actively searching for a job in order to receive benefits, has been delayed due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. TWC will revisit late July.
  • A Goldman Sachs survey showed 84% of small businesses that tapped the taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program expect to run out of money by the first week of August, putting added pressure on employer payrolls.

Child care policy: We continue to respond to a high call volume from parents who are trying to get back to work, while the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state has led to additional measures to ensure the safety of child care providers, parents, and children.

  • A required two-week notice for all requests to transfer children to another child care provider was implemented by WFS as of June 29.
    • WFS put a halt on all transfers to thoroughly review each request starting June 22 due to increasing public health concerns.
  • The reinstatement of absence tracking scheduled for July 20 has been put on hold,given the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state.
    • Children in subsidized child care programs are generally allowed 40 unexplained absences during a year. When it’s reinstated, all children’s absences will be reset to zero due to the disruption of COVID.
  • FDA issued a warning to consumers and healthcare providers about a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled as containing ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but have tested positive for methanol contamination.

3

Amid significant increase in demand for reemployment services, one of Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s most significant funding sources is to be slashed 15%

The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) program — one of WFS’s most prominent funding sources — is set to be reduced for FY21 by 15.1% on October 1, in about three months.

  • Offered at no cost for participants, this program was designed to give job seekers personalized support and training needed to find a job.
  • Federal funding for this services is determined by regional economic health from June 2018 to July 2019.
  • To ensure trainees find jobs, WIOA provides funding for training in occupations with proven earning potential in growing industries in Travis Co, such as auto mechanics, computer support specialists, and nurses.
  • Low-income adult workers and laid-off workers living in Travis Co, who are usually eligible for WIOA and are most impacted by the pandemic, will be more so affected as our capacity to support them decreases.

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