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Unemployment Claims Falling, but Still at Record Highs

The number of Texans filing first-time unemployment claims totaled 89,736 last week, down from 106,820 the week before and significantly lower than in the previous weeks when Texas’ stay-home order was in place.

Since March 13, Texas has seen a total of 2.4 million unemployment claims and benefit payouts of $11.1 billion. 

Typically, Texas sees about 14,000 first-time filers each week. 

Nationwide, 44 million people are drawing unemployment assistance.

The continuing high number of claims is viewed as an indication that businesses are still feeling the pinch of the pandemic even though Texas and most other states are allowing a slow return to business. 

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that the worst of the coronavirus-related layoffs is likely over, but the secondary effects of what may ultimately be the deepest recession in almost a century could persist for much longer.

Texas has not yet resumed requiring unemployment recipients to conduct job searches as a condition of continuing to receive benefits. Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Cisco Gamez said there is still no date for that change and promises significant advance notice when it does happen.

The job search requirement has been temporarily waived due to the pandemic.

Also due to the pandemic, Texans are now eligible for up to 52 weeks of benefits. 

While the jobless numbers are improving, the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve predicts there will be an extended time where it will be difficult for people to find work. He expects years of continued support for the economy by his organization and, possibly, more help from Congress in the form of another stimulus package. 

What you need to know if you are out of work

If you are newly unemployed, it is important that you apply for benefits as soon as possible because eligibility begins the week you apply. You will not be paid benefits for weeks before you apply.

The $2 trillion federal stimulus bill includes an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits for four months and aid for freelancers and others who do not usually qualify for unemployment assistance. In addition, there is financial help available for the self-employed.

If your last job was for a temporary agency or staff leasing company, you may still qualify, but there are additional requirements.

How to apply

Apply for benefits in one of two ways:

Apply online at Unemployment Benefit Services by selecting “Apply for Benefits.” Information about applying online is available in the Applying for Unemployment Benefits Tutorial.

Call a Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 and speak to a customer service representative.

Information you will need to apply

Your last employer’s business name, address and phone number.

The first and last dates (month, day and year) you worked for your last employer. If you worked for your last employer on more than one occasion, provide the most recent employment dates.

Number of hours worked and pay rate if you worked the week you apply for benefits (Sunday through Saturday).

Information about the normal wage for the job you are seeking.

Alien Registration number (if not a U.S. citizen).

Written by RA News staff.


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