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Texans have filed more than 3.8 million unemployment claims during coronavirus pandemic

UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
As of Nov. 14,
3.8 million
Texans have filed for unemployment relief since
mid-March.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
Texas' unemployment rate was
6.9%
in October, up from 3.5% in October 2019.
SALES TAX REVENUES
In October, Texas' sales tax revenues were down
3.5%
from October 2019.

The week ending Nov. 14, a total of 38,060 Texans filed initial applications for unemployment relief.

More than 3.8 million people have filed for unemployment relief since the beginning of the pandemic, and the state’s unemployment rate remains nearly 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The state’s outdated and understaffed unemployment insurance office has left countless Texans confused and without unemployment benefits.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 Nov. 14, a total of 38,060 Texans filed initial applications for unemployment relief. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 3.8 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 fell in October

Texas’ unemployment rate in October was 6.9% — a decrease from the 8.3% September jobless rate, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Nov. 20. The state still lags behind the national unemployment level, and a new wave of coronavirus infections this month could further set back the economic recovery.

Unemployment rate

Sales tax revenues fell in October

In October, Texas collected $2.7 billion in sales tax revenues, down 3.5% from what the state collected in October 2019. Those revenues came from purchases made in September, when key coronavirus metrics dropped to levels not seen since June and Gov. Greg Abbott loosened restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses. The total revenue for August, September and October this year was down 5.1% 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.