By Mitchell Ferman, Texas Tribune
In July, 8% of Texans were jobless, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning, a sign that Texas’ economy is still languishing as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country.
That is up from a near-record low of 3.5% in July 2019, and down from June, when 8.4% of Texans were unemployed (originally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.6% of Texans were unemployed in June but later adjusted that figure downward, as the department typically corrects its data).
The Texas economy has steered into a recession during the coronavirus pandemic and recorded historic jobless rates, such as April’s record-worst 13.5% unemployment rate, a devastating financial toll for the state. More than 3.2 million Texans have filed for jobless relief since mid-March.
All summer, economists said the Texas economy would not bounce back until the coronavirus faded.
“We did have a significant surge in cases,” Keith Phillips, senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said of the summer months. “The good news is, these cases are coming down. But they’re still way higher than April and May. This creates a great challenge to bring back parts of the economy.”
Still, more than 10,000 Texans are dead from COVID-19 and more than 5,600 Texans are hospitalized with the virus. For the economy to truly improve, Aimee Chin, an economist with the University of Houston, said the state needs to get a handle on the coronavirus.
“If the public health situation is not improving and as we move forward without the extra $600 from the federal government,” Chin said, “I’m really fearful things are going to get worse in terms of food insecurity, homelessness and evictions.”