Austin, TX--Governor Greg Abbott elects to eliminate federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits, saying the Texas economy is booming:
“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits. That assessment does not include the voluminous jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60 percent more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the Pandemic hit Texas.”
Governor Abbott goes on to say:
The “number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits.”
"In fact, there are nearly 60% more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the pandemic hit Texas," Abbott said in part in a written statement.
Federal law requires 30 days notice to make a change, so the effectivity date will be June 26, 2021.
At least 18 other states have already dropped the additional $300 per week funding, according to Forbes.
Practically, the Governor's move forces people back to work and off of unemployment benefits, but people losing their benefits have a different perspective.
Mary Baker says she has cut back on everything that makes sense to make ends meet. For next month, she anticipates cutting back on her insulin and food. She says:
“When I heard Abbott’s announcement on the TV the other night, I got a knot in the pit of my stomach because I just don't know how I’m going to make it work,” Baker said. “I can’t just go take a $12 an hour job. That's going to stop the unemployment, but it's still not going to pay my bills.”
- Glen Bird used to drive for Uber and Lyft. He's been using time during the pandemic to further his education and his business. Bird had recently started studying at the Austin campus of Texas State University with a professor in the Theater department before he learned the Governor was withdrawing the additional assistance. He's worried his efforts will be slowed. He says:
“I've got a month to just try to figure out what I'm going to do because since I’m an independent contractor on unemployment, it's not a case of ‘I'm just losing the $300 federal benefit,’” Bird said. “After June 26, I'm going to be without any source of income, unless I can drum something up really fast.”
“We're on unemployment because we were unable to work due to this pandemic. It's not like we were fired from jobs, where we weren't doing a good job. It was a case of ‘This was meant to keep people financially secure and stable during a time where businesses are closing, because of the pandemic where people have lost their jobs,’” Bird said.
Local residents feel losing the assistance puts the economic situation in further peril.
If you're looking for employment in Austin, here are resources.
- Lowe's home improvement store in Austin has on-the-spot hiring during specific days. Positions range from $14-$20 per hour.
- Glassdoor search for open positions in Austin
- Simply Hired shows open positions in Austin
- San Marcos Premium Outlets is hiring
The effects of the pandemic aren't over for locals in Austin. Some residents who want to get back to work say they still can't make ends meet.