Governor Abbott informed the U.S. Department of Labor on May 17, 2021, that Texas will opt out of the federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic effective June 26, 2021. This only includes the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Regular unemployment benefits are still available.
“The Texas economy is booming, and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” said Governor Abbott. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits. That assessment does not include the jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs. There are nearly 60 percent more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the pandemic hit Texas.”
According to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), nearly 45 percent of posted jobs offer wages greater than $15.50 per hour. Approximately 76 percent pay more than $11.50 per hour. Only 2 percent of posted jobs pay around the minimum wage.
With opening the state back to 100 percent, the focus must be on getting unemployed Texans back to work, rather than paying unemployment benefits.
Another reason is the high level of fraudulent unemployment claims being filed. Fraudulent unemployment claims rob everyone including employers and do nothing to help the unemployed. TWC estimates that nearly 18 percent of all claims for unemployment benefits during the pandemic are confirmed or suspected to be fraudulent, which totals more than 800,000 claims, worth as much as $10.4 billion, if all claims had been paid.
The $300-a-week federal payments, which is a reduced version of a $600 weekly benefit authorized last March under the CARES Act to help the millions of workers thrown out of work amidst the coronavirus pandemic will go until Sept. 6th in states that do not opt-out of the federal program.