Fact Check: Does Texas Now Have More Job Openings Than People Receiving Unemployment Benefits?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Alexandra HartMay 26, 2021 12:26 pm, , , ,

From PolitiFact Texas:

Job openings in Texas match the number of people on unemployment

Gov. Greg Abbott followed 18 other Republican governors on Monday by rejecting federal pandemic unemployment benefits.In a press release, a tweet and an appearance on Fox News, Abbott justified the decision by citing two figures that he argued illustrate the state’s post-pandemic economic recovery. First, there are more job vacancies than people receiving unemployment benefits; and second, the number of job openings in the state today is significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.”I had the Texas Workforce Commission dig into the numbers and provide me with the numbers, and here they are,” Abbott told Fox News host Bill Hemmer on Tuesday. “We now have more job openings than we do people who are on unemployment. We have 60% more job openings today than we did the month before the pandemic hit the state of Texas.”

Abbott’s decision, which goes into effect June 26, will cut $300 weekly payments to unemployed Texans by ending the state’s participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Abbott also ended the state’s participation in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provided self-employed people with aid throughout the pandemic.

As of March, the unemployment rate in Texas stood at 6.9%, or nearly 970,000 people, which is down from the pandemic high of 13% in April 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Texas Workforce Commission reports that 1,029,890 million Texans are currently receiving unemployment payments; about 31% of them are receiving aid as self-employed workers.

The state’s withdrawal from the federal benefits programs comes at the urging of business leaders, who said that 60% of Texas businesses were hiring for at least one position and blamed their hiring struggles on the $300 weekly aid payments. But are there more job vacancies in the state than unemployed people, as Abbott claims? And how does the number of job openings today compare to pre-pandemic levels? …

Read the full story and see how Abbott’s claim rated at PolitiFact. And listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.