According to a new study, Texas is among the slower states when it comes to recovering economically from the pandemic lockdowns. WalletHub ranked Texas at number 38 out of 51 states (includes District of Columbia) whose unemployment claims are recovering the quickest.
“The main reason for the state’s slow recovery is the almost 50% increase in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims that were registered during the past week compared to the beginning of 2020,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub. “This is the seventh biggest increase nationwide compared to pre-pandemic levels.”
The study found that more than 18,000 people filed for unemployment statewide during the past week compared to 42,000 the same week of last year.
“We can see that unemployment benefits are still high compared to pre-pandemic levels,” Gonzalez told Dallas Express. “A slow unemployment recovery means a slow reboot of the state’s economy. From a financial standpoint, there really are no upsides to this.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there are some 835,862 unemployed Texans.
“Texas has already ended benefits, which should incentivize people to look for jobs,” Gonzalez said in an interview. “Aside from that, authorities should encourage people to get vaccinated, wear masks in crowded areas, and practice social distance as much as possible in order to keep the health risks low.”
The low ranking means that the job market is recovering slowly despite the fact that the state ended benefits early last month when the unemployment rate fell below the threshold needed to continue federal benefits, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
“This could be either because people are still reluctant to look for a job due to health risks or because there aren’t many job opportunities available,” Gonzalez said. “If people are not going back to their jobs, it means that businesses are not able to fully reopen, and this will keep the economy from rebooting.”
The state’s ranking indicates that Texas is lagging behind most other states, according to Gonzalez. For example, South Carolina scored the top spot, followed by Arkansas, Kansas, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
“South Carolina registered the biggest drop in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims last week compared to the same week of 2019, almost 51%, as well as the largest drop in unemployment claims compared to the first week of 2020, 84.5%,” she said. “Plus, when we compared the start of the pandemic, March – September 2020, to the same period of this year, we found that South Carolina’s unemployment claims dropped by over 91% in 2021.”
“It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what they’re doing in order to achieve a faster unemployment recovery since we only looked at the changes in unemployment claims,” Gonzalez added.