COLLEGE STATION (Texas Real Estate Research Center) – Initial jobless claims in Texas decreased to 22,200 the week ending May 22, marking eight straight weeks of declines. This is the lowest level of initial unemployment claims since before the pandemic hit the economy.
About 5.1 million unemployment claims have been filed since March 21, 2020, according to U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) data.
Continuing unemployment claims increased to 219,500 the week ending May 15, recording two straight weeks of declines and the lowest level since March 2020.
"The levels and decreases in both initial and continuing unemployment claims indicate that the labor market is getting closer to pre-pandemic levels," said Dr. Luis Torres, a research economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center. "Still, the Texas economy needs to gain almost 446,000 jobs to return to pre-pandemic levels."
The number of workers receiving benefits through the pandemic unemployment assistance program, which is open to gig workers and others who don’t typically receive benefits, decreased the week ending May 22.
Last week, U.S. initial claims decreased to 405,600, bringing the 62-week total to 82.6 million. This marks four straight weeks of declines and the lowest level of the pandemic.
More people in most of Texas' major and border metros filed new unemployment claims the week ending May 15, with the exception of Houston and Brownsville.
"Although the majority of metros recorded an increase, the overall trend still points toward falling initial claims," said Torres.
Using data from the DOL and the Employment and Training Administration, the Center has estimated unemployment claims for Texas' major and border metros since March 21, 2020:
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, 1.21 million claims;
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, 1.17 million claims;
San Antonio-New Braunfels, 356,200 claims;
Austin-Round Rock, 300,500 claims;
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 141,600 claims;
El Paso, 122,300 claims;
Brownsville-Harlingen, 65,500 claims; and
Laredo, 35,300 claims.
"Increasing vaccination rates should lead to a faster recovery in the leisure and hospitality sector, possibly creating a wave of hiring that would allow thousands of laid-off workers to find jobs," said Torres.
Administrative/support/waste management/remediation servicesregistered the highest number of initial claims the week ending May 15. The sector was followed by retail trade, construction, and accommodation and food services.