Texas unemployment claims rise as state reinstates job search requirements

There were 93,895 new claims for unemployment in Texas last week, according to the Labor Department. That’s up from the previous week’s total of 89,736, marking the first increase after several weeks of declines. 

With last week’s addition, a total of 2.5 million Texans have now filed for unemployment assistance since mid-March. 

The slight uptick in filings comes as the Texas Workforce Commission is reinstituting several policies that had been waived due to the pandemic.

The requirement to look for work will resume July 6, with the first time unemployment recipients could be asked to produce their work search activities being July 19. At least three search activities are required each week prior to requesting payment.

Acceptable work search activities may include but are not limited to: 

registering as a job seeker on WorkInTexas.com or at a public workforce office

finding and following up on job contacts from WorkInTexas.com

using the reemployment resources available at a Workforce Solutions office that may lead directly to obtaining employment

applying for a job

interviewing for a job.

TWC spokesperson Cisco Gamez said Texans who are self-employed do not need to conduct work search activities, but they are required to perform specific activities each week to get their business open again. 

“This will vary on a case-by-case basis based on the business,” Gamez said. “A general example might be updating your website, marketing your business, posting new information on social media and networking to recruit new clients.”

Employees who are furloughed with a specific date for returning to work are exempt from having to prove they are looking for a job.

TWC is also reinstating the attendance requirements for subsidized child care.

Effective this week, parents are required to begin recording their child’s daily attendance at child care. Starting July 20, TWC will begin counting unexplained absences. Children are generally allowed 40 unexplained absences in a year.

Nationwide, 1.5 million residents submitted first-time jobless claims. It was the 11th week in a row that applications had declined from the peak reached in March. 

Since the start of the pandemic, about 45 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits. As of Thursday, more than 20 million of them are still receiving assistance.

“The prolonged plateau of over 20 million continuing to claim UI benefits despite states reopening sends a strong signal that any labor market recovery will happen in fits and starts,” Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao told ABC News Thursday morning.

“The labor market’s path to recovery is littered with obstacles that could smother the rebound, from the expiration of federal support for businesses and workers to depressed consumer demand to the resurgence in COVID-19 cases,” he added.