Texas opting out of extra $300 in weekly jobless aid

Texas is joining other states and is opting out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday informed the U.S. Department of Labor that Texas will opt out of the federal program on June 26. This includes the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” said Abbott in a press release. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits. That assessment does not include the voluminous jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60 percent more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the Pandemic hit Texas.”

The Texas Association of Business quickly responded to Abbott’s announcement stating it was something that business owners were hoping the governor would do.

“Today’s (Monday’s) announcement is a boon for businesses who are struggling to get back on their feet in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” TAB CEO Glenn Hamer said in a press release “By eliminating the federal supplement, employers will be able to fill their job openings and unleash the full might of the Texas economy. Under Governor Abbott’s leadership, the Lone Star State will remain the jobs engine of America and continue its dominance as the best state for business.”

The $1.9 trillion stimulus package Congress passed in March had extended the $300 unemployment benefits until Sept. 6.

Last Thursday, the TAB and other business associations in Texas sent a letter to Abbott requesting that he end federal unemployment compensation related to the pandemic.

A portion of their letter stated “We are hearing from our constituencies all over the state that finding and hiring workers in Texas is increasingly difficult. Important Texas jobs are going unfilled, threatening our state’s recovery and economic future.”

The letter also stated “Employers believe that supplemental UI benefit payments from Washington are disincentivizing work and resulting in many good Texas jobs going unfilled. We believe it is time to realign government incentives behind the goal of rebuilding our economy together.”

According to The National Law Review, 16 states have opted out of the federal program that include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Tennessee, just to name a few.

lmartinez@brownsvilleherald.com