MERCEDES, Texas (KVEO) — The extra $300 of weekly unemployment benefits are coming to end, as part of the latest effort by Governor Greg Abbott to get people back to work.
According to unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas has an unemployment rate just below 7%. As of March 2021, the unemployment rates of Cameron and Hidalgo counties are higher than the state’s average at 10% and 11% respectively.
Workforce Solutions Communication Specialist, Mike Gonzalez, said there are multiple reasons for people’s hesitancy in returning to work.
“I think one thing to consider, we’re not looking at it economically, is people’s apprehension to go out into the world again considering the pandemic is far from over,” Gonzalez said. “We’re still working on getting that vaccination rate up.”
Another reason is that many jobs pay less than or equal to what they’re receiving in unemployment benefits. This is leading businesses to face labor shortages.
“We have seen local employers take initiatives to offer higher pay rates to make themselves competitive in the job market and it’s been successful for them, but we also understand not everyone can make that same change,” he said. “But again, if it’s something you’re struggling with and you need assistance getting that right staff in your business, Workforce Solutions can help with recruitment assistance at no cost.”
He adds less than 2% of the jobs available pay minimum wage, and 45% of them have an hourly rate of $15.50.
For those looking to enter a new industry, Workforce Solutions offers free resources, such as Metrix Learning.
“It provides thousands of training to anyone interested in learning new skills, whether it be skills related to Microsoft Office suites or pretty much any type of entry-level soft skills you can use in an office type setting, or more,” he said.
The end to the additional unemployment benefits was expected, he said, and one way they’re aiming to help people return to the workforce is through a job fair.
On Friday, May 21, Workforce Solutions will be hosting its first in-person job fair since the onset of the pandemic. More than 20 employers will be present.
“Whether they’re interested in a medical industry job or food service or hospitality, there’s a good chance there’s something for everyone,” he said.
The fair will take place at the Mercedes Dome located at 1202 N Vermont St. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.