HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the job market as first-time unemployment rates are on the rise in Texas.
“Because of COVID-19, Texas saw pretty dramatic increases of unemployment across the state,” said James Bernsen, Deputy Communications Director for the Texas Workforce Commission.
The U.S Department of Labor reported an increase in first-time unemployment claims within the last month. Bernsen said the disruption of COVID-19 continues playing a factor.
“We still have an unemployment rate of 8.1% in the state of Texas even though we added 65,000 jobs in the month of November,” he said.
Bernsen adds that the infection rates across the state explain the instability of employment and why businesses continue struggling.
“They’re in areas that have had high COVID-19 rates. For example, the Rio Grande Valley is one,” said Bernsen. “What normally happens in an economic recovery is you see consistent job numbers coming back but we’re seeing the same numbers going away and coming back at the same time right now.”
Even with vaccines being distributed across Texas, Bernsen said it could be a while before the economy gets back to normal.
“Even with the vaccine there’s really no guarantees and there’s always going to be uncertainty because we’re seen talks of new strains of COVID-19 and all these things that can come into play,” he said.
Bernsen said all they can do is wait to see the effects the vaccine has on reducing exposure to the virus, which he hopes will allow more businesses to open and more job stability.
To apply for unemployment or to find information on job availability, visit the Texas Workforce Commission website.