AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, parts of Central Texas are experiencing a decreased unemployment rate from June to July.
According to a release from Workforce Solutions, numbers from the Texas Workforce Commission show the unemployment rate in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area dropped from 7.3% in June to 6.7% in July. That statistical area includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.
That 6.7% figure represents 81,942 unemployed people who are seeking benefits, the release said.
Additionally, the Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is lower than the total unemployment rate in Texas, which is 8.2%, and in the country, which is 10.5%.
Bigger picture numbers show the region has collectively loss 44,800 jobs since July 2019, according to the release.
The trade, transportation, utilities, professional and business services, manufacturing, education and health services and the government are leading sectors of the job market when it comes to growth in that area. However, the leisure and hospitality industry has taken a hit during the pandemic and experienced the biggest job loss.
Looking at the Austin area and Travis County alone, the unemployment rate also decreased from 7.5% in June to 6.9% in July — the same percentage point decrease as the greater area. That represents 50,485 unemployed people who have applied for benefits, Workforce Solutions said.
In the county, those unemployed are disproportionately people of color, those between the ages of 16 and 34, and people who have less education than an associate’s degree. This data was provided by Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insight, according to the release.
Unemployment has also disproportionately affected lower-income residents. From March to July 2020, about half of the claimants in the county earned less than $30,000 per year when working. More than three quarters of claimants had earned less than $50,000 when working, Workforce Solutions said.
Claimants say they can’t get in contact with TWC
Although Workforce Solutions said new unemployment claims decreased compared to earlier months in the pandemic, hundreds of unemployed residents have told KXAN they still can’t get in touch with anyone at the Texas Workforce Commission to get their benefits.
The agency set up eight call centers that are open seven days a week to handle pandemic-related claims.
KXAN plans to submit a second list of around 300 Texans having trouble contacting TWC to the agency next week.