BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott announced this week that he will be withdrawing Texans from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which has added a weekly $300 supplement to jobless Americans’ unemployment benefits. Abbott said the Texas economy is booming, and that the number of job openings almost equals the number of Texans receiving unemployment compensation.
At the Workforce Solutions – Brazos Valley office in Bryan, business services manager Nathaniel Muir said that nearly all industries in the Aggieland area are searching for employees.
“The average that people get on unemployment is $17.60 [hourly]," Muir said. "So if you’re making that much on unemployment and a job is offering $9 or $10, then you’re going to be a little hesitant to go back to the job, unfortunately. Honestly, I think employers should raise their wage a little bit to compete with the unemployment.”
Muir also encouraged the unemployed to empathize with the position of some businesses still recovering from the pandemic; to remember that jobs offer more long-term solutions to financial hardships and that the security and company benefits offered by jobs are important. He noted there may be many different reasons a person remains on unemployment, from lack of access to childcare, to reluctance in accepting a job outside of a person’s skill set.
“Some people have been out for six, nine, even 12 months, so just mentally it’s a little hard to prepare yourself to go back," Muir said. "I think it’s a combination of money, trying a different field, and just being content.”
While Muir suggested the lack of federal aid could become a motivator for Texans, Bryan-College Station Salvation Army executive director Timothy Israel said his organization has come across many people who will genuinely still need financial assistance.
“The issues is that it’s been compounding," Israel said. "[People] are multiple months behind [financially], and so we’re having to help coordinate with other agencies to help get them back on track, get them back to self-sufficiency and on stable footing.”
Israel said the Salvation Army vets people who ask for financial assistance, to ensure they are truly in need. With this in mind, he says the Salvation Army of Bryan-College Station has still been helping at least three times the amount of families in need, compared to pre-pandemic times.
“I do suspect we’re going to see more people coming to receive our services due to this, and we stand ready to meet that need," Israel said, commenting on the removal of federal aid.
Texans will have until June 26 to continue receiving the additional $300 supplements to their unemployment checks.
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