Business shutdowns and limits on their operations through the coronavirus pandemic have battered Texas companies, which are now grappling with another devastating surge in infections as intensive care units at dozens of hospitals across the state are full. Entire industries — bars and restaurants, tourism and travel, oil and gas — continue to struggle.
The unemployment rate in Texas decreased to 7.2% in December, more than double the rate of 3.5% a year earlier. Hungry and homeless Texans have been confused about the prospect of more federal coronavirus relief while the state’s outdated and understaffed unemployment insurance office has left countless Texans struggling to receive unemployment benefits as they navigate the Texas Workforce Commission’s confusing processes.
A decline in Texas’ sales tax revenues — the largest source of funding for the state budget — has created a shortfall that lawmakers will have to fill in the 2021 legislative session. Economists say weakened global demand for oil, high unemployment and the ongoing public health crisis will continue to weigh down Texas’ economic recovery.