UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

How many people will lose unemployment benefits in Texas after they end in September?

The Texas Workforce Commission announced that Texans will stop receiving extended unemployment benefits following a decrease in the unemployment rate.

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How many people will lose unemployment benefits in Texas after they end in September?
ANGELA WEISS AFP

Texas has always given 26 weeks of jobless assistance historically. However, when the global pandemic burst in April 2020 with most of workplaces closed, unemployment rates grew violently over 12.8% becoming state’s highest rate since 1986 when it nearly topped 10%. The concern on how the pandemic was going to affect the residents’ finances triggered Gov. Greg Abbott to pass extended benefits of up to 13 additional weeks during periods of unemployment which surpass a 6.5 per cent threshold.

Nevertheless, with the current state’s unemployment rate falling below the threshold, at 6.2 per cent, according to the US Department of Labor, there is no need to continue with the extension.

Payments to end mid-September

Since last summer when numbers surpassed the 6.5 per cent required for extended benefits to kick-in, residents could qualify for a maximum of 52 weeks of federal jobless aid plus the extended benefits. However, the last payment will officially finish 11 September, as reported by the Workforce Commission, causing thousands of people who’s only source of income are unemployment benefits, struggle to pay their bills.

“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,’” Uber driver Glen Bird said. “”I’m going to be without any source of income, unless I can drum something up really fast.”

Jobs increased by 60 per cent

Abbott’s decision of cutting unemployment benefits, which is 50 percent funded by federal government, comes after multiple Republican critics, alleging aids just serves as a disincentive for people not to look for a job. Texas’ governor claimed new jobs have increased by 60 per cent— a million more — compared to February 2020, with lots of employers seeking jobless people to work for them earning above the minimum wage.

This statement was followed by the Workforce Commission statement, which stated that roughly around 76 per cent of posted jobs pay over $11.50 an hour of work.

How many receive Jobless payments in Texas?

While claims received by the commission escalated to 9.5 million since mid-March, no certain number of Texans who benefit from unemployment aid was specified by the Texas Workforce Commission. However, the latest data released by University of Texas at Austin reveal an approximated figure of 344,000 Texans were receiving payments through the PUA program as of 30 April.

Gov. Abbot's decision has increased critics disapproval among some residents, which say desperate Texans shouldn’t have to pick between getting into a job as soon as possible that doesn't fully fill their needs or subsisting with $1,200 less, which for many families is an lifeline for food and a roof over their head every month. 

Lots of unemployed Texans claim they are still facing difficulties in getting into any job, including those which pay less than what they need to earn to pay bills and are relying on federal unemployment to pay for basic needs.