Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stated that the number of job openings in the state almost matches the number of Texans receiving unemployment benefits as he praised the state’s economy.
Abbott was one of the 18 Republican governors to decline federal pandemic unemployment assistance earlier in May. Texans who had previously been receiving federal unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 will no longer do so after June 26.
“The Texas economy is booming,” Abbott said in a May 27 post to his Twitter account. “The number of job openings are almost identical to the number of Texans receiving unemployment benefits. And almost 20% of unemployment claims filed during the pandemic appear to be fraudulent. Texans are ready to get back to work.”
Abbot’s decision generated some sharp criticism. Some workers were concerned about their income.
“I know he’s getting pressure probably from the restaurant association and people like that, because people don’t want to go to work because they’re probably making more money being at home,” Tony, a trade show worker from Kingwood, told Houston Public Media. “But just making the cut across the board, I’m not sure that’s the way to do it.”
Bryan Lopez, an MBA student from Rice, expressed similar concerns.
“A lot of jobs right now that are available are for entry level jobs, not really for people moving up to management or even associates,” Lopez said. “It’s kind of been a big hassle finding jobs that meet my criteria. I don’t think the job market’s there yet. I’ll be okay. Not where I used to be before COVID happened, but I’ll be okay. But I don’t think that this policy should be applied across the board because there are people that actually need this to survive, and they won’t be getting the funds to do so.”
Abbott also stated that job vacancies in Texas today exceed the number from before the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to normal unemployment benefits, Abbott also withdrew from a federal benefit program for aiding gig and freelance workers.