Unemployment numbers in Texas are on the rise as more people find themselves with reduced hours, or laid off from businesses shuttered to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And the Texas Workforce Commission, the agency that handles unemployment benefits is encouraging all worker impacted by closures, to file a claim with them.
Francisco Gamez is the spokesman for the Texas Workforce Commission.
“If you are not working at this time, you should go to the website and apply,” Gamez says.
The public can learn more at the agency’s web site. Texans can also call 1-800-939-6631, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central. At press time, the agency site proved slow to respond, likely due to heavy demand for its services.
“If you’ve been affected by this, by the virus, by the impact of the corona virus, you should apply,” Gamez says.
The number of claims filed is already rising. During this week last year, there were 12,500 claims filed. This week, about 19,900 have been filed, according to the agency.
Many employees, particularly in the restaurant and bar industries, have seen their hours reduced dramatically but they are still considered employed. They should still apply, according to the TWC.
“If they have reduced hours or no hours, we’re asking them to file for unemployment,” Gamez says.
Filing a unemployment takes a few minutes. All someone needs to file a claim is their social security number and home address. Currently, the maximum time someone could be paid unemployment benefits is 26 weeks. But that could change, depending on action by the federal government.
“We’re updating information as we get it,” he says.
This article has been updated to include the phone number for the Texas Workforce Commission.