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Austin unemployment rate now 2x pre-COVID levels despite recent job expansion

Despite job expansion with new companies moving to Austin, Workforce Solutions Capital Area said unemployment has risen to 5.9%.

AUSTIN, Texas — Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Workforce Solutions Capital Area on Friday reported that Austin-area unemployment is still two times pre-virus levels. 

Based on its November report, the Texas Workforce Commission reported that Austin MSA's unemployment rose to 5.9%. That relates to about 74,345 unemployed residents. Meanwhile, the jobless rate for Texas is 8% and, for the nation, it's 6.4%.

"We are here in person, by phone or by email, to assist local people with completing their job searches and securing employment with local businesses," said Melanie Flowers with Workforce Solutions. "We will continue to engage people to offer support with training for in-demand jobs, providing safe care for children, and much more to strengthen opportunities for families in Travis County."

The report also states that new unemployment claims decreased from October in Austin/Travis County, with 4,853 approved claims throughout November. And while 21,945 new jobs were posted in November, that's still 2,063 less than November of last year. Job postings were also down 27.5% by the end of November compared to pre-virus January 2020.

In November, the area's top hiring job groups were IT (3,204), management (2,564), sales and related (2,413), healthcare practitioners and technical (2,042) and office and administrative (2,021). And the top hiring companies included the University of Texas (291), Ascension Health (284), Hospital Corporation of America (279), IBM (210) and Baylor Scott and White (189).

Despite the bad news, Workforce Solutions said there are still some positives, as the area is seeing job expansion and diversification with the new companies like Tesla, Oracle, BAE and Tata moving to Austin.

As COVID-19 continues to impact the economy, Workforce Solutions says it has become more challenging for companies to hire, maintain and develop their workforce. However, strategies like upskilling can provide a pathway for long-term growth. It invites companies to take part in its upskilling survey here.

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