Unstable Texas recovery is looking shakier.
According to data released in September, the state’s unemployment rate rose to 8.3% in September from 6.8% in August. About 1.2 million Texans were unemployed in September, 203,000 more than in the month – and more than twice in September 2019, before the emergence of the coronovirus epidemic.
While unemployment in Texas rose from August to September, it declined nationally. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate was 7.9% in the previous month, which is lower than the Lone Star State.
Other recent figures were less discouraging. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, in September, Texas added about 41,000 nonfarm jobs and recorded an increase in employment in most areas. But the gains were much lower in August, when Texas added about 107,000 positions.
Texas also lagged behind the US in the pace of job growth in September – the fourth consecutive month the state overtook the country on that measure.
“We’re still recovering, but our growth is slow, and we’re lagging behind in national reform,” said Christopher Slyjak, an associate economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “This is not good news, but it is not a sign of another drop in activity.”
In Dallas-Fort Worth, the unemployment rate rose to 7.5% in September, up from 6.3% the month before, TWC said. D-FW had over 300,000 unemployed and looking for work, compared to 126,000 in the same month last year.
Statewide, more than 122,000 people were forced out of the labor force in September, including about 44,000 in D-FW – an indicator of the difficulty of navigating the job market during an epidemic.
Bernard “Bud” Weinstein, an economist at Southern Methodist University, said, “The big story is that we’ve got a lot of discouraged employees there.” “People are giving up, at least temporarily. Or they don’t think the opportunities are worth pursuing. “
In the past year, Texas has lost nearly 600,000 non-normal jobs, and each region has fewer workers than it did a year ago. This includes financial activities and professional and business services, which were doing strong development work before the epidemic. According to TWC, government jobs also declined by 17,000.
After much of the economy took off in the spring, the federal government passed a massive relief bill, which reduced some of the pain. Waco economist Ray Perryman said that legalists have been unable to agree on a large follow-up package, and this failure threatens to delay and return.
“Unfortunately, it is not surprising that the pace of hiring has slowed down,” Perryman wrote in an email.
The relief bill, known as the CARES Act, helped to propel the economy when it was most in need of help. But this was based on the assumption that conditions would improve in two to three months.
“We are well beyond that point, and an increasing number of businesses and families are liquidating their liquidity,” Perryman said. “Recovery is going to be uneven at best, and probably won’t be completely done until we meet a new normal in relation to the virus.”
Unemployment claims, which reached unprecedented levels in the epidemic, remained stubbornly high. And in Texas, conflicts continue in the energy sector, which also affects the state’s economic performance.
Texas’ mining and logging segment, including energy, added 1,300 jobs last month, but is down more than 55,000 year-over-year. This is an employment decline of over 22%, which is worse than the battered leisure and hospitality industry.
The epidemic has restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues. Statewide, that region has lost 225,000 jobs since last year. But it was a bright spot last month, adding 23,600 workers with leisure and hospitality – more than any other segment.
The state has relaxed restrictions in an effort to boost the economy. This month, Gov. Greg Abbott said that shopping centers, restaurants and gyms can reopen up to 75% of capacity and bars up to 50% if their counties have lower COVID-19 transmission rates.
It can boost job growth – or it can backfire. COVID-19 cases are on the rise, and Dallas County red-handed the perceived risk level this week, the highest, an indication that the public should limit non-potential activities.
In midsummer, Texas had to resist economic sanctions after COVID-19 cases went statewide and threatened heavy hospitals.
“If Texas emerges as a hot spot again, it will be a major headwind,” Slijk said. “The outlook is slowly improving, but the future is full of uncertainty.”