Nearly 2.7 million Texans have filed for unemployment relief since mid-March


The Texas Workforce Commission’s headquarters building was closed on April 2, 2020 as tens of thousands of Texans were trying to get through online and on the phone to file unemployment applications. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)

The coronavirus pandemic has steered the economy into the path of a recession. In Texas alone, the state’s unemployment rate is at the second-highest rate ever, and nearly 2.7 million people have filed for unemployment relief since mid-March. The week ending June 27, a total of 96,141 Texans filed initial applications for unemployment relief. Texas’ sales tax revenues — the largest source of funding for the state budget — have also dropped and are expected to create a shortfall that officials will have to fill.

The number of Texas families that have applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has increased, demand has spiked at food banks across the state and rent programs have run dry in various cities. The state’s outdated and understaffed unemployment insurance office has left countless Texans confused and without unemployment benefits.

Cities are furloughing and laying off city employees, and officials have already ordered state agencies to begin making budget cuts.

Even though businesses across a wide swath of industries are allowed to reopen, some bars and restaurants have voluntarily closed again after employees contracted the new coronavirus. Economists say weakened oil prices, high unemployment and the ongoing public health crisis will slow Texas’ economic recovery.

Here’s how many Texans are filing for unemployment relief

The week ending June 27, a total of 96,141 Texans filed initial applications for unemployment relief. Since mid-March, about 2.7 million Texans have applied for unemployment insurance, more than in all of 2019. The Texas Tribune is tracking the number of out-of-work Texans filing for unemployment relief with the Texas Workforce Commission each week.

The unemployment rate fell slightly from record high

Texas’ unemployment rate in May was 13% — a slight .5 percentage point drop from the record-high 13.5% April jobless rate, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released June 19. The federal bureau adjusted the April unemployment rate for Texas to 13.5% from the previously released 12.8%. May’s 13% unemployment rate may also be revised.

Sales tax revenues are falling and will likely create a shortfall in the state budget

In June, Texas collected $2.7 billion in sales tax revenues, a 6.5% decline from the same period in 2019. Those revenues came from purchases made in May, when Texas began allowing businesses to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sales tax revenues are the largest source of funding for the state budget. The economic impact from the pandemic is expected to create a multi-billion dollar shortfall in the state’s current two-year budget, according to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

About this data

Unemployment claims are updated each Thursday with data from the U.S. Employment and Training Administration and the Texas Workforce Commission. The unemployment rate is updated on the third Friday of each month with data from the previous month. Sales tax data is updated at the beginning of each month.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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