Tag Archives: covid-19

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (August 3-9, 2020)

9 Aug

2-minute read

Good afternoon,

While there are many details to surface, yesterday, the President signed a Presidential Memoranda that would restart pandemic stipends up to $400/week. The federal government would redirect $44 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. State governments are asked to provide one-quarter of that sum from their unexpended CARES Act funds.

What it means to Travis Co: Travis Co had roughly 65,000 jobless receiving the $600/week pandemic stipend — over and above their Texas unemployment benefit — until it expired on July 25. If the President’s action survives potential legal challenges, money will again support Travis Co jobless residents, half of whom earn less than $30,000/year. The language in the memoranda suggests a Governor must request the aid from FEMA and agree to provide one-quarter of the total payment. It is not immediately clear when payments will actually restart, though the Memoranda says they can start as of the week ending August 1. Calculations are forthcoming on how long those payments will be sustained, though the Memoranda says the lost wage payments end no later than December 6. With a soft economy and unemployment 3x the February level, this $400/week payment will help Travis Co residents.

Travis Co had roughly 65,000 jobless receiving the $600/week pandemic stipend — over and above their Texas unemployment benefit — until it expired on July 25.

Below, take a closer look at the 55,643 June unemployed residents in Travis Co, a historical low employment rate for lower-income Austinites, and a July job posting trend analysis (showing a downturn since the end of June).

In partnership, Tamara


1

Who are Travis Co’s unemployed? A closer look at the 55,643 June unemployed residents by ethnicity, age, education, and previous occupation

The unemployed are disproportionately persons of color, younger, and have a high school diploma or GED. Below is a preliminary analysis of raw June unemployment data. We’ll bring you more findings of key changes in jobless demographics comparing more recent months.

Ethnicity: Black and Hispanic Travis Co residents are most disproportionately impacted by unemployment.

  • Black residents make up 12.8% of the June unemployed compared to 7.8% in the working-age population, according to Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights.
    • In June 2020, 16% 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.
  • Hispanic residents make up 35.7% of the June unemployed while representing 31.4% of the local labor force.

Age: Over half of the June unemployed in Travis Co are between the ages of 16-34.

  • Residents ages 16-24 and 25-34 make up 26.1% and 25.2% of the June unemployed, respectively.
  • Of note: From March-June 2020, most jobless claimants are between the ages of 25-34 (34%). 
    • The second most are ages 35-44 (28%), and the third most is 16-24 (19%).

Education: Travis Co residents with less education than an associate’s degree are most disproportionately impacted by unemployment.

  • Unemployed residents with a high school diploma or GED (21.4%) are disproportionately affected compared to the labor force with this education level (16.9%).
  • Those with some college or an associate’s degree comprise nearly 30% of the June unemployed, near equal to the share of individuals with these educational levels in the labor force.
  • Unemployed residents with a bachelor’s degree (22.6%)comprise a smaller percentage than the total workforce with a bachelor’s degree (31.1%).
  • Of note: From March-June 2020, most jobless claimants have a high school diploma or GED (34%).
    • The second most had some college (24%), and third most hold an associate’s (23%).

Previous occupations: One in four June unemployed Travis Co residents across all sectors were previously in food service, retail, and personal care occupations (23%).

  • 16.6% were previously in skilled trades & manufacturing occupations.
  • 2.6% were previously in healthcare occupations.
  • 2% were previously in IT occupations.
  • Travis Co industries with the most June unemployment are Unknown (9,796); Retail Trade (6,236); Professional, Scientific, and Tech (5,563); and Accommodation and Food Services (5,275).

2

Lower-income workers in Austin MSA have a historically low rate of employment compared to pre-COVID, down 36.9% as of May 31, 2020

COVID’s impact has hit lower-income Austinites exceptionally hard, with the rate of lower-income employment down 36.9% as of May 31, 2020, compared to January 2020. The employment rate indicates a decrease in lower-income workers active in the workforce.

  • 50% of all Travis Co jobless claimants previously earned less than $30,000, and 78% previously earned less than $50,000, according to WFS data.
  • With high levels of unemployment and relatively few job openings, a cut in take-home pay began two weeks ago for Austin’s jobless claimants with the expiration of the $600 unemployment stipend.
  • Without a law to continue the stipend, the demand for WFS services— job matching and training support — is expected to surge.

Yes, but: WFS is working with a number of elected officialson rapid approaches the Austin region can take to help its lower-income population use this “downtime” to plug into an effective training ecosystem, receive guidance, rapid training, and job placement to ensure 2021 is much better financially.


3

Following enhanced safety orders, new job postings in Austin MSA fall 23% from the last week of June to the final week of July

According to Opportunity Insight, there was a 23.5% decline in new job postings comparing the week ending June 26 and the week ending July 31. The state of Texas experienced a 12.6% decline in new job ads when comparing the same weekly periods.

  • Job posting trends in Austin MSA across sectors began a decline at the beginning of July with heightened public safety orders brought on by the rise of new COVID-19 cases. 
    • This recent decline is in contrast to the surge in job postings as restrictions eased from May through June.
    • Comparing the last week of May 2020 and the final week of June,there was a 23.6% uptick in new job ads in Austin MSA. This increase was a continuation of an upward trend that began early May as food, retail, and hospitality industry jobs began to open.
  • The Leisure and Hospitality sector was the most impacted in July 2020, with a 32.8% decline in new job ads comparing the last week of June 2020 to the final week of July.
    • We continue to monitor how the rise in cases and enhanced safety restrictions continue to affect this hard-hit industry.
  • The Manufacturing sector showed the most resiliency with only a 3% decline in new job ads comparing the last week of June to the final week of July.
  • Healthcare job postings fell 4.1% when comparing the same periods, as hospitals hire contact tracers and health screeners at building entrances. 
  • Compared to a year ago, July 2020 had 8,398 more new job postings (24,774). However, this increase is largely from businesses filling positions lost during the pandemic.
  • The top occupation groups that companies across all sectors were hiring for in July 2020 were in IT (3,735), retail (2,874), and management (2,764).

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (July 27-31, 2020)

31 Jul

2-minute read

Good morning,

Our survey of 1,488 jobless Austinites — with four out of 10 previously working in the hard-hit hospitality and retail sectors — revealed 70% expect to return to their previous occupations. More recently, economists predict that only 58% of laid-off workers are likely to return to the job they held pre-COVID. We are looking at resetting our survey timeframe to a narrower focus for future reports. Still, 68% of unemployed Austinites say they’re interested in career retraining into high-growth industries like IT (30%), healthcare (20%), and manufacturing (8%). Of the 30% of respondents who do not expect to go back to their previous occupations, 82% expressed interest in retraining.

Since this ongoing pandemic began, WFS has been on the ground, working across sectors to provide immediate mitigation while developing longer-term recovery plans, driven by the voices of impacted workers and industry leaders.

Since this ongoing pandemic began, WFS has been on the ground, working across sectors to provide immediate mitigation while developing longer-term recovery plans, driven by the voices of impacted workers and industry leaders. And with the recent expiration of the federal unemployment supplement, we continue our work to help Austinites find work right away — whether a new job in their current industry or a drastically subsidized rapid training for a career in an in-demand industry. And since people need childcare to go back to work or receive training, we help eligible parents apply for childcare assistance and other critical supports.

Below, you’ll find how the proposed HEALS and HEROES Acts would impact jobless Texans, and our latest collaborations and trainings. Please let me know if you have any questions.

In partnership, Tamara 


1

How the initial Senate Republican stimulus package proposal would impact Texas’ jobless

The Senate Republicans’ proposed HEALS Act offers a $200/wk federal pandemic stipend through September, lower than the $600/wk pandemic stipend, which expired on July 25. After that, the HEALS pandemic stipend proposal would go up to $500/wk to provide 70% of a claimant’s lost wages when added to state benefits.

  • For comparison, Texas’ state benefits replaced an average 43% of lost wages in the first quarter of 2020, according to the Labor Department.
    • Texas’ standard unemployment payments can range from $69-$521 per week, depend on an applicant’s former income.
  • Due to the $500 stipend limitation, wage replacement would begin to drop below 70% for unemployed Texas workers who made more than $76,000/yr.

How does that affect, say, the average bartender?

  • Lower-income earners would not fare as well as they did with the previous $600 per week stipend.
    • For example, the average bartender, who makes about $13.50 an hour, would make just $378 a week from unemployment under Senate Republicans’ 70% plan. 
    • Under the previous policy, if this worker were collecting the average Texas state unemployment benefit ($246 a week), on top of the expired $600/wk stipend, they would take home about $846 a week — more than twice the amount of the proposed plan.
    • According to WFS data, 82% of jobless claimants made more on unemployment under the previous policy.
  • Without a new law, experts expect the demand for WFS services— job matching and training support — to surge beginning Monday.

2

How the House’s HEROES Act would impact Texas’ jobless

The House’s HEROES Act, proposed in May, would provide for the extension of the CARES Act’s $600/wk enhanced unemployment benefit through January 2021. 

  • However, this plan hasn’t been taken up by the Senate in any way.
  • Due to the critical differences between the HEROES and HEALS Acts, negotiations between the White House, Senate, and House leadership have been ongoing since Monday. Because the extra unemployment benefits have effectively ended, time is of the essence. 
  • WFS is working with elected officials on rapid approaches for the Austin area to help its lower-income population use this “downtime” to plug into an effective training ecosystem.
    • Through these approaches, impacted workers would receive guidance, fast track training, and job placement to ensure 2021 is much better financially.

Reality check:

  • A recent study that polled nearly 2,000 Americans found that 31.5% could not live without the enhanced unemployment checks for more than a month.
    • It also revealed that the most vulnerable workers — those earning less than $15,000/yr — were the most likely to lose their entire income compared to those who make more.
    • In Travis Co, 50% of jobless claimants previously earned less than $30,000/yr. 78% earned less than $50,000/yr.

What else:

  • TWC will continue to suspend the “work search” requirement for those on unemployment benefits as Texas continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19.
    • Leaders at the state agency have said they will follow the Governor’s lead and may reimplement the requirement once the economy is able to reopen at a greater capacity.
    • WFS anticipates an additional increase in demand for our services from this policy change.

3

WFS works to help ‘tidal wave of job seekers’ through community partnerships and career retraining opportunities

To all of our community partners, we thank you for your support and collaboration amid our collective COVID-19 response. Take a look at some of our recent — and upcoming — collaborations.

  • On August 4, WFS will join leaders from Austin Technology Council, TWC, and the City of Austin to get input from all sectors of the Central Texas economy to help shape the local tech talent pool to sustain the Austin tech ecosystem’s growth. 
    • Register here to provide your insight.
  • Central Texas Manufacturing Partnership is offering two new skills training opportunities throughAustin Community College (ACC)and Skillpoint Alliance to equip area residents with a Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential. 
    • The next CPT training — now offered online — begins August 10. Learn more here.
    • On Friday, we celebrated9 CPT graduates who earned their credentials in our second semiconductor manufacturing program through ACC.
  • In support ofAustinTexasMusicians.org, we’re hosting a Virtual Career Expo to help local gig workers find work-from-home positions on August 6.
  • WFS’ Director of Talent Pipeline Success Megan Elkins was interviewed by Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison’s on Talking with Tasha. Watch on Facebook.
  • Our Outreach Specialists hosted webinars exploring careers with Texas Assisted Living Association, Austin Water, and Amplify Credit Union. Watch on YouTube.
  • Last week, WFS discussed our COVID-19 response for Austin in the E Pluribus Unum and Brookings Metro Policy Center webinar Catalyzing Workforce Innovation: Strategies for Supporting the Tidal Wave of Job Seekers.

WFS by the numbers:

  • 40,000+ page views on our COVID-19 response webpages (for job seekers, employers, childcare, and students) since April.
  • $1.65M provided to employers for Skills Development Fund, Layoff Aversion, and Disaster Assistance.
    • WFS relief efforts are helping employers in a variety of sectors: healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and nonprofit.
    • To learn more or apply, download our info sheetor just shoot me a quick email of interest. 
  • 6 virtual career fairs to date, hosting 121 employers and 1,371 job seekers.
  • In 2 months: The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) program — one of WFS’s most prominent funding sources — is set to be reduced for FY21 by15.1%. WIOA was designed to give job seekers personalized support and training needed to find a job, offered at no cost to participants.
    • Federal funding for these services is determined by regional economic health from June 2018 to July 2019.
    • 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.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (July 20-26, 2020)

26 Jul

2-minute read

Good morning,

On behalf of Workforce Solutions Capital Area, we heartily welcome Tesla into the regional employment ecosystem in Central Texas. For generations, hard-working, hard dreaming Central Texans have made this a great place to create a career, raise a family, and support one another. In these tough economic times, Central Texans are excited to welcome an iconic American business success story to our community to work with us to write its next, successful chapter. We were proud to be asked to testify twice before our partners at the Travis County Commissioners Court and once with Del Valle ISD Board of Trustees.

After a strong June job recovery month, we look forward to new opportunities to help connect Travis County’s 55k unemployed workers to agile, rapid job training and supports — such as childcare, transportation, and employment services — in preparation for these roughly 5,000 job opportunities.

For generations, hard-working, hard dreaming Central Texans have made this a great place to create a career, raise a family, and support one another

Below, you’ll find the latest on the $600/wk pandemic stipend expiration, updated insights into what’s on the mind of Travis County’s jobless, and how a young Austinite is elevating his life with hands-on work in skilled trades. Please let me know if you have any questions.

In partnership, Tamara


1

A significant cut in take-home pay has now come for Austin’s jobless claimants, as new claims continue to rise in July

As of yesterday (July 25),the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit (FPUC), authorized through the CARES Act, expired.

  • FPUC provided an additional $600/wk on top of the state’s standard unemployment payments, which can range from $69-$521 per week, depending on an applicant’s former income.
  • On Friday, two rallies were held in Austin to call attention to this dilemma and to rally support for extending federal unemployment programs.

Reality check:

  • The end of the FPUC stipend will mean a significant cut in income for all jobless claimants. But this drop will be felt hardest by the 75% of Travis Co claimants who previously earned less than $50,000.
    • Half of Travis Co jobless claimants previously earned less than $30,000. When the pandemic stipend expires, Texas unemployment benefits will be more than cut in half for these folks.
  • Initial unemployment claims are also on the rise in Texas. There was a 7% increase in new unemployment claims in the first week of July, bringing the tally for the week to 117,000. In the first three weeks of July, there’s been an average of 121,000 new claims per week in Texas.
    • Last week, more than 1.4M U.S. workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, the first time the weekly tally rose in more than three months.
  • With the rise in COVID cases and enhanced safety measures, these happenings may prompt an increase in the July unemployment rate.
    • A chief U.S. economist warned that unemployment could rise in the coming months with heightened risk “coming from temporary job losses that could become permanent.”

WFS sat with Council Members and media totalk Austin unemployment, the end of the pandemic stipend, and how we’re helping keep our struggling neighbors afloat:


2

68% of Austin’s unemployed say they are interested in retraining to a new career in updated WFS findings

WFS makes it a priority to interview and analyze responses to those who are jobless. We have processed more impacted worker survey responses to better inform our supports to Austin’s unemployed. Here’s what we know:

  • 78% of respondents said they are looking for employment.
  • 89% indicated they have the tools to learn or work from home.
  • 68% said they are interested in retraining to a new career.
  • See more insights in our 1-page summary.

‘Grow our own’:

  • Help us improve the Master Community Workforce Plan mission to upskill 2,000 employees by 2021.
    • Please take this surveyby the Ray Marshall Center at UT Austin, where you can anonymously report the number of employees you upskill each year.
  • WFS offers funding opportunities to partner with businesses that want to retain, grow, reskill, or upskill their workforce.
    • To learn more or apply, download our one-page info sheet, or just shoot me a quick email of interest.

3

‘I want to lead people to this program’: Desmond Roberson is elevating his life with hands-on work in the skilled trades

Last week, we celebrated 12 Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) graduates who earned their credentials in the 8th program in Austin through our training partnership with Local 286.

  • MC3 is a nationally recognized industry certificate that introduces students to the different building trades and teaches them the skills needed for a registered apprenticeship, debt-free.
  • All graduates were offered employment on graduation day as an electrician’s helper, plumber/pipefitter, laborer, sheet metal worker, fire sprinkler installer, insulator, or carpenter.
  • Ten out of 12 graduates in this cohort are under the age of 34. Four are Class of 2020 high school grads.
  • On average, program trainees can earn up to $15/hour during their first year as an apprentice and up to $70,000/year after completing a program, which takes two weeks and is free.

What they’re saying:

  • Desmond Roberson, a 2019 MC3 grad: “I grew up around a lot of people who made mistakes growing up. When I post work videos on social media, they see me and wonder how I am able to do this,” said Desmond. “If you have the will to better your life, the program is there for you.”
  • Read more about Desmond’s story here.

What’s next:

  • We’re pivoting to offer training online — one is the Certified Production Technician (CPT) training program held by the Central Texas Manufacturing Partnership.
    • Students will take online classes with ACC to earn a CPT credential from the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC).
  • After trainees graduate, WFS will help graduates find work with one of the many companies in this high-demand industry, including Samsung Austin Semiconductor, Applied Materials, and NXP.
  • Apply for the August 10 cohort on our training partner Skillpoint’s website. You can recommend your friends and colleagues to me today.
    • To be eligible, applicants must be under 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Level.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (July 6-12, 2020)

12 Jul

2-minute read

Good morning,

In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87% of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. Less than half of the respondents indicated they had a solution for this.

Austin has a rare chance for the current jobless and your employees to reskill, re-engage, and come out of this pandemic stronger. With 90% of Austin’s unemployed having access to participate in online training and with most interested in career reskilling, this is the ideal time to help workers reskill through virtual/online platforms so impacted Austinites are ready to return to the workforce.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area will continue to partner with industry leaders like Austin Regional Manufacturing Association (ARMA) to bridge workforce skill gaps, as we’re doing with our new state-funded skills development effort for frontline manufacturing supervisors.

Austin has a rare chance for the current jobless and your employees to reskill, re-engage, and come out of this pandemic stronger.

Stay tuned for a more encompassing initiative to identify and connect Austinites to job and upskilling opportunities in high-growth industries — based on our Master Community Workforce Plan — in coming weeks.

Also, below, find the latest job postings trend analysis (showing a negative impact by the rise in new COVID-19 cases), our reemployment funding outlook, and more about our upcoming new skills training collaborations.

In partnership, Tamara


1

As new COVID cases rise, July job postings in Austin MSA begin decline, down 24% from January 2020

Recent job posting trends in Austin MSA are beginning to decline with heightened public safety orders brought on by the rise of new COVID-19 cases, a contrast from the surge in job postings as restrictions eased over the past two months.

  • An uptick in Austin MSA job postings started the week of May 11, as food, retail, and hospitality industry jobs began to open.
  • But with the rise of COVID cases and business closuresfrom the Governor’s new safety orders, new job postings in Austin MSA fell 24.1% when comparing the first week of July to January 2020.
    • Just one week earlier(the week ending June 26),there was only a 4.7% decline in Austin MSA job postings compared to January 2020.
    • The impact is statewide, with Houston experiencing a 31.2% decline in job postings compared to January 2020.
  • The Leisure and Hospitality sector was the most impacted in the last week, with a 59.1% decline compared to January 2020.
    • We’re monitoring how the continuing rise in cases and enhanced safety restrictions continue to affect this hard-hit industry.
  • Manufacturing was the second most impacted industry, with a 48.3% decline in job posts in the same period comparison.
    • However, this industry represented 5% of all job postings, remaining steady with its monthly average since March.
  • Healthcare job postings fell 26.8% when comparing the same periods, but this industry did show an uptick in job posts toward the end of June, as hospitals hire contact tracers and health screeners at building entrances.
    • We’re keeping an eye on how the halt of elective surgeries further affects this industry.

2

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

In 90 days: State funding forWFS’ Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) program, a no-cost employment program designed to give local job seekers personalized support and skills training to find a job, will be cut 15.1% for FY21, at a time when services are needed more than ever.

  • Through the WIOA program funding, WFS offers financial assistance to eligible individuals for job search assistance, training, and other support services.
  • To ensure trainees find jobs, WIOA provides funding for training in occupations with proven earnings potential in growing industries in Travis Co – such as auto mechanics, computer support specialists, and nurses.
    • WIOA-funded training is provided by a wide variety of certified training providers in Travis Co.
  • Funding is determined by regional economic health from June 2018 – July 2019. It does not take into account the current pandemic and work necessary for workforce boards and communities to create a stronger, safer, smarter workforce.
  • Low-income adult workers and dislocated workers living in Travis Co, who are usually eligible for WIOA and already the most impacted by the pandemic, will be more so affected as our capacity to support them decreases.

On the horizon: Unemployment checks will decrease significantly for 75%+ of the local joblesswhen the additional $600/week federal disaster-related benefits end on July 25.

  • The extra $600/week benefits are in addition to the state’s normal unemployment payments, which can amount from $69-$521 per week, depending on an applicant’s former income.
  • After July 25: Workforce development experts expect a “flood” of job seekers and demand for WFS’ job matching and training support services.
  • Of note: A McKinsey Global Survey found about half of Americans with job security concerns have fewer than four months of savings to live off.

3

WFS awarded $150K COVID-19 Skills Development Fund grant to support frontline supervisor training

Through our COVID-19 Skills Development Fund, we’re excited to build on our partnership with ARMA and SWRI Texas Manufacturers Assistance Center to help train frontline manufacturing supervisors through the Supervisors Certification Training. This is a need that bubbled up during our manufacturing industry roundtable. I’m very proud of our Upskill and Advancement Director Amber Warne and team for making this happen!

  • Skills Development Fund is Texas government’s premier funder of job-training, providing local customized training opportunities during the pandemic.
  • Supervisors Certification Training targets frontline supervisors and team leaders at manufacturing facilities. It gives a comprehensive overview of leadership principles to help them manage daily operations and challenges presented by COVID. 
    • The course allows for a full 40 hours of learning spread out over five weeks, which aids participants in not falling behind at work.
  • More on these upskilling partnerships through this fund to come.

More WFS funding opportunities:

  • Incumbent Worker Training provides funding assistance to help your company increase retention by filling your middle- and upper-level positions with upskilled, current full-time, permanent employees.
  • New Employee Hiring and Training Funds are also available to any type of employer to help cover tailored on-the-job training and a fully subsidized temp employee.
  • COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Funds can offset business’ infrastructure costs to help ensure you can maintain your workforce. Grants of $10–20K are available through WFS.

How to apply and help:

  • Please help us share these opportunities. We’re looking to partner with businesses that want to retain, grow, reskill, or upskill their workforce.
  • To learn more or apply, download our one-page info sheet, or just shoot me a quick email of interest.
    • WFS staff is available to help you through the easy application process for rapid approval.

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.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area CEO Update (June 29 – July 5, 2020)

5 Jul

2-minute read

Good afternoon, and happy 4th of July weekend,

Many American workers who are considering making a career transition will need to reskill, yet fewer than half say they have access to the education and training they want. 

With over 80k in Travis County out of work — and the majority expressing interest in career reskilling — Workforce Solutions Capital Area and training partners, such as Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286 (Local 286), continue to identify and connect Austinites to job opportunities and companies hiring now.

Stay tuned for a more encompassing initiative — based upon our Master Community Workforce Plan — in coming weeks.

Also, below, hear from the latest apprenticeship training graduates on their experience and skilled trades industry employers on their ‘bright future.’

In partnership, Tamara


1

‘This program is definitely going to change my life’: 100% of June 2020 MC3 apprenticeship class found employment

Last week, we celebrated 18 Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) graduates who earned their credentials in the 7th program in Austin through our training partnership with Local 286.

  • MC3 is a nationally recognized industry certificate that introduces students to the different building trades and teaches them the skills needed for a registered apprenticeship, debt-free.
  • All graduates were offered employment on graduation day as an electrician’s helper, plumber/pipefitter, laborer, sheet metal worker, fire sprinkler installer, insulator, or carpenter.
  • This cohort was the first comprised of only recent high school grads —all but one are class of 2020.
  • On average, program trainees can earn up to $15/hour during their first year as an apprentice and up to $70,000/year after they complete a program, which takes two weeks and is free.
  • The next step for WFS is having another class, which starts on July 6. Applications are usually accepted through the first day of class — you can recommend your friends and colleagues to me today, or apply on our website.
  • Of note: Recent studies show the majority of Americans, especially those with a high school education or less, prefer nondegree programs and skills training options (71%) over degree programs (29%).

What they’re saying:

  • Angel Castro, a 2020 grad from Akins High School, said this program was highly useful, especially as many young people have yet to decide on a career.
    • “I just don’t want to be stuck somewhere where I’m just like ‘I don’t know what to do,’ change majors — none of that,” Angel said. 
    • “I want to be here to start working, have an education, and get paid for it — no student loans… The program helped me a lot and gave me the guide to go somewhere that I want to go.”
  • Alex Matos, a 2020 grad from Manor Senior High School, said, “It was awesome to meet people, see all these trades, hear about what we can do — how it works.” Alex will be working at Young & Pratt, specializing in sheet metal.
  • “Construction hasn’t slowed down,” said Brian Peabody, training coordinator at Local 286. “Our workers have been doing everything they possibly can to maintain their safety and their health, but at the same time, they’re still building Texas.”

How to apply and help:

  • Registration is now open for the last class of summer from July 6-17. Applications are usually accepted through the first day of class.
  • Please help us share this opportunity. Download the flyer and send to your constituents, especially new high school grads. 

2

‘The future looks good’: Skilled trade employers confident in present and future employment needs

Local skilled trades companies convened for a WFS industry roundtable in June, sharing collective confidence in the industry based on real-time demand and projected hiring needs. For a pulse of the skilled trades industry after the mid-March economic freefall, our employer survey showed:

  • Three out of 11 skilled trades companies reported they had to furlough or lay off workers in immediate response to COVID.
    • 73% reported being open for business, however.
  • 73% reported a decrease in revenue, but over half said they do not anticipate a future reduction in their workforce.
    • 27% also expect to increase headcount in the future.

What they’re saying:

  • John Colley, director of Texas operations at Rosendin Electric, an electrical contracting company, said the company is “actually going to come out of this virus in better shape” than they started, speaking to the backlog of major electrical projects in the Austin area over the next year.
    • Many employers represented at the roundtable includingSamsung Austin Semiconductor, Rosendin Electric, and Austin Carpenters Local Union 1266 said the need for skilled workers and apprentices is increasing as large construction projects ramp up.
  • Mark Butler, facilities manager at Samsung, said it’s “business as usual” for his area’s skilled workers, with an unchanged demand to service and maintain equipment so far.
  • See the full skilled trades industry roundtable here, moderated by Joe Cooper, WFS board member and training director of Local 286 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union.

Yes, and:

  • WFS is offering funding opportunities to help sustain payroll and talent readiness for local businesses during this ongoing pandemic.
  • To learn more or apply, download our info sheetor just shoot me a quick email of interest. 

Skilled Trades by the numbers:

  • Future workforce: There were 8,562 unemployment claimants from the construction, transportation, and warehousing sectors from March through May, 7% of the total number of Austin’s jobless.
  • Jobs uptick: In June, 982 new skilled trades jobs (including transportation, warehousing, and construction) were posted in Austin MSA, +182 from May. There were 2,062 total postings in June for the region. 
  • Top occupations for June include Class A CDL drivers, plumbers, warehouse workers, and service techs.

3

TWC delays work-search requirements due to the recent rise in Texas COVID cases, will revisit late July

TWC has stated that bringing back work-search requirements, where Texans must be actively searching for a job in order to receive benefits, will continue to be conditions-based.

  • This requirement — temporarily waived during the COVID crisis — was previously set to kick back in July 6.

On the horizon: Unemployment checks are scheduled to decrease significantly for 75%+ of the local joblesswhen the additional $600/week federal disaster-related benefits end on July 25.

  • The extra $600/week benefits are in addition to the state’s normal payments, which can amount from $69-$521 per week, depending on an applicant’s former income.
  • After July 25: Workforce development experts expect a “flood” of job seekers and demand for WFS’ job matching and training support services.

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.