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Charlie L. Harper III

Jon Hockenyos projects that unemployment numbers will drop again by the end of September. (Charlie L. Harper III)

Jon Hockenyos, the economic advisor who earlier this week told the Austin City Council that job losses in the Austin metro area could total over 261,000, says that most of the people losing those jobs will probably be reemployed by the end of September.


He expects the height of unemployment to be the month of May, with jobs beginning to pick up again in June. If 261,000 positions were lost, it would represent 25.4% of jobs in Austin before the coronavirus pandemic. Actual unemployment would be slightly higher than 25.4% because over 2% of the Austin job force was already unemployed before any coronavirus-related job losses took place.

Hockenyos does not expect employment by September 30 to fully match pre-crisis levels.

"I think we are going to see a little bit of permanent job loss," he says, without giving a specific forecast. "You will see some companies closing."

In the April 7 presentation, Hockenyos, who is the president of the economic development consultancy TXP, grouped occupations into categories and estimated a percentage of potential job loss for each.

He expects to see the greatest losses in occupations related to food preparation and service; cleaning and maintenance of buildings and grounds; and sales, with projected losses of 81%, 61% and 56%, respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, he forecasts that computer and mathematical occupations; education, training and library occupations; and farming, fishing and forestry occupations will see no net job losses.

In his calculations, Hockenyos looked at factors such as whether occupations were essential to public health or safety, whether they involved work that could be done off-site, and whether they were salaried.

He also considered how close workers needed to be to others as they did their job.

Hockenyos points out that there are many unknowns. He says he finds it realistic to base estimates on a gradual return to jobs beginning in June, but many factors will ultimately affect the availability of jobs.

"If there is a second wave, things will change," he says. "If there is a cure, things will change. This is a process. You have to keep checking in."

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