Texans have filed nearly 3.7 million unemployment claims during coronavirus pandemic

As of Oct. 17,
3.7 million
Texans have filed for unemployment relief since
Texas' unemployment rate was
in September, up from 3.5% in September 2019.
In September, Texas' sales tax revenues were down
from September 2019.

The week ending Oct. 17, a total of 50,819 Texans filed initial applications for unemployment relief.

Nearly 3.7 million people have filed for unemployment relief since the beginning of the pandemic, and the state’s unemployment rate remains more than double what it was at the start of the year. Texas’ sales tax revenues — the largest source of funding for the state budget — have created a shortfall that officials will have to fill.

The state’s outdated and understaffed unemployment insurance office has left countless Texans confused and without unemployment benefits. An extra $600 weekly unemployment payment that was part of a federal relief bill expired in July. In August, the state received federal funding to provide an extra $300 every week for people who have lost their jobs. However, nearly 350,000 unemployed Texans didn't qualify for the extra benefit, and the payments ended in September.

When eviction moratoriums were lifted in July, unemployed renters faced a system that housing attorneys — and some eviction judges — say is already stacked against tenants. In September, the federal government announced a nationwide eviction moratorium that could protect millions of Texans from being evicted.

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 Oct. 17, a total of 50,819 Texans filed initial applications for unemployment relief. Since mid-March, nearly 3.7 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.

New unemployment claims each week

The unemployment rate increased in September

Texas’ unemployment rate in September was 8.3% — an increase from the 6.8% August jobless rate, according to a Texas Workforce Commission announcement on Oct. 16. Economists say the uptick shows how some industries that had hoped to weather the coronavirus pandemic’s economic recession have not been able to do so and have instead announced large numbers of layoffs.

Unemployment rate

Sales tax revenues fell in September

In September, Texas collected $2.6 billion in sales tax revenues, down 6.1% from what the state collected in September 2019. The total revenue for July, August and September this year was down 2.5% compared to the same period in 2019, according to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

Sales tax revenues

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.

Disclosure: The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed state sales tax revenue incorrectly. The amounts are in billions of dollars.

Illustrations by Emily Albracht. Mandi Cai and Brandon Formby contributed to this report.