AUSTIN, Texas — The unemployment rate in Texas for the month of April hit 12.8% – Texas' worst monthly tally on record.
Texas's unemployment rate is just below the national average, which currently sits at 14.7%. According to the Associated Press, nearly 39 million people have filed for unemployment in the U.S. since the virus hit the nation.
In the Austin area, the unemployment rate increased from 3.8% in March to 12.2% in April. This represented more than 138,000 residents in Austin and Round Rock who sought unemployment benefits.
The rate in Texas jumped significantly from the month of March, which had a rate of 5.1%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, the jobless rate was 3.5% in the Lone Star State. The state's worst-ever monthly unemployment rate was 9.2% in September, October and November of 1986 when Texas hit an oil bust.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a measurable effect on the Texas economy,” said Texas Workforce Commission chairman Bryan Daniel. “While we will continue to provide assistance to those seeking unemployment benefits, many employers are hiring and TWC is working to provide resources to job seekers as well as employers as the state opens up.”
According to the Texas Workforce Commission, all major industries in the state saw job loss in April 2020. And not only are Texans losing their jobs, they're losing their health insurance.
Texas already has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. Nearly one in five Texans doesn't have health insurance and politics does play a role. Texas is one of about a dozen states that hasn't expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
"The way it originally worked, the state could put in a dollar and would get back $10 in federal benefits," explained Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune.
"Texas stayed out under Rick Perry and it has stayed out under Greg Abbott. They've kind of drawn a line in the sand," Ramsey added. "Now you're in a position where if the state had expanded Medicaid, many of these people would have been insured before the pandemic, and now that the pandemic has arrived a lot of people who are losing insurance, along with their jobs would, you know, have a way out."
Ramsey said in order to expand Medicaid, the Texas Legislature has to be in session, which it is not. Bills to expand Medicaid are filed in Texas every time the Legislature is in session, and Ramsey said if unemployment and the pandemic remain a problem when lawmakers return for the Jan. 2021 session, people can expect to see a few bills filed.
If your job has been impacted by COVID-19, here's how you can file for unemployment.
MORE UNEMPLOYMENT COVERAGE:
- Changes coming to Texas Workforce Commission | Q&A with TWC on reopening business, finding jobs and catching fraud
- How unemployment in Texas compares to job openings
- Who must work, who doesn't, and what employers can do to catch fraud
- Choosing not to return to work? Here's who can still receive unemployment benefits in Texas
- How opening businesses again will impact your unemployment | Q&A with Texas Workforce Commission