COVID-19

What happens if you choose not to go back to work in Texas?

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 20, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Employment advertisements in a 2014 newspaper in Australia. Scott Barbour/Getty Images
COVID-19

What happens if you choose not to go back to work in Texas?

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 20, 2020
Employment advertisements in a 2014 newspaper in Australia. Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Share Now on:
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Another report of initial unemployment claims data will be released tomorrow morning. The number of first-time applications for unemployment benefits has been declining for the past six weeks, but state unemployment offices are incredibly busy.

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Ed Serna, executive director of the Texas Workforce Commission, to see how things are going in Texas.

“It’s getting a little better, but not as good as we’d like it to be,” Serna said. “We still have a lot of people that we need to help.”

Texas’s shelter-in-place order ended this month, so restaurants, retail, and many other businesses are open again, with limited capacity. While many Texans have returned to work, some don’t feel comfortable going out.

“We are prepared to make some allowances,” Serna said, to allow people who are staying home to continue receiving unemployment benefits. “If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 or you are at high risk or if you have childcare issues. The others, those are going to require us to look into the situation.”

Serna noted that the TWC’s default will be to continue to pay benefits until they can complete the investigation.

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

Which states are reopening?

Many states have started to relax the restrictions put in place in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Although social-distancing measures still hold virtually everywhere in the country, more than half of states have started to phase out stay-at-home orders and phase in business reopenings. Others, like New York, are on slower timelines.

Is it worth applying for a job right now?

It never hurts to look, but as unemployment reaches levels last seen during the Great Depression and most available jobs are in places that carry risks like the supermarket or warehouses, it isn’t a bad idea to sit tight either, if you can.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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