Texas unemployment claims increased for second week in a row

First-time unemployment claims jumped 21% last week. With bars closed again to in-person service, restaurants scaled back to 50% occupancy and COVID-19 raging in Texas, more than 117,000 people were sent to the unemployment line in the week that ended July 4. It was the second week in a row for an uptick in filings.

Nationwide, more than 1.3 million residents applied for jobless benefits last week, according to the Associated Press. Another 1 million people filed last week under a separate program that for the first time provides help for self-employed and gig workers.

“A full recovery in the labor market is going to be a multi-year process, and we think the resurgence in COVID-19 infections raises the risk that there will be a pause in the progress,” Oxford Economics Chief U.S. Economist Gregory Daco told the AP.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Texas Workforce Commission has paid out $16.9 billion in benefits. About $32 million of that represents overpayments TWC is now attempting to get back from recipients. 

“An overpayment is caused when individuals receive unemployment benefits that they were not eligible to receive,” said TWC spokesperson Cisco Gamez in a Facebook Live media briefing earlier in the week. “There are a variety of reasons why overpayments can and might happen, but TWC is required by law to collect overpaid funds.”

Some of the reasons for overpayments include failure to report earnings or reporting earnings incorrectly, incorrect calculations of benefit level, false information about reasons for job separation, reversal of eligibility due to an appeal.

Jobless Texans are currently exempt from having to search for work to maintain their benefits. TWC has delayed that requirement for now. 

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