This Just In: April Unemployment Rates in Texas Range From 9.2% in Amarillo to 19.1% in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission

The figure below depicts the April rates for all of the Texas metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). These data were released on June 3 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only three Texas MSAs had unemployment rates less than 10%. Amarillo had the lowest rate of 9.2%, Abilene’s rate was 9.3% and College Station-Bryan’s rate was 9.4%. The three MSAs with the highest unemployment rates in the state were McAllen-Edinburg-Mission at 19.1%, Beaumont-Port Arthur at 18.8% and Brownsville-Harlingen at 17.8%.  Among the four largest MSAs, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land had the highest April unemployment rate at 14.6%. The rate in San Antonio-New Braunfels was 13.6% and 13.2% in Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington. Austin’s unemployment rate of 12.6% was the lowest among the four largest MSAs. Across the state, the unemployment rate in April was 12.8%.

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A slightly different measure of the unemployment situation that includes more recent information from the month of May are weekly counts of initial unemployment insurance claims. Over the last 11 weeks, 2,326,147 workers in Texas have filed unemployment claims. The figure below shows how weekly claims rose for the weeks ending on 3/21/20 to 4/4/20 when they reached their peak of 315,167. Since the peak, initial claims have generally declined, and this past week 106,821 claims were filed, the lowest number since the third week of March. The number of workers in Texas receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending on May 16 was 1,272,557. This reflects an insured unemployment rate of 10.3%. Note that the insured unemployment rate is typically lower than the overall unemployment rate because it measures the percentage of covered workers who are receiving benefits. Some unemployed workers are not receiving benefits because they are not covered by unemployment insurance, their benefits have expired, or they have not filed a claim.

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The next figure shows how the counts of initial claims in the US have evolved over the same time period. The week ending on March 28 had the highest number of initial claims at 6,867,000, with the number of initial claims declining each week since that time. Last week, 1,877,000 workers filed a claim. Over the course of the last 11 weeks, 42,647,000 workers have filed initial unemployment claims. For the week ending May 23, the number of workers receiving UI benefits was 21,487,000, yielding an insured unemployment rate of 14.8%.

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Posted: June 04, 2020 by Dennis W. Jansen, Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier