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The polar vortex led to icy Austin roadways—and traffic collisions—Thursday morning.
Austin-Travis County EMS and Austin Fire first reported a 26-car pileup on North State Highway 45, near Parmer Lane, around 8:20 a.m. EMS reports 32 people were involved in the accident with at least one serious injury and four people transported from the scene to St. David's Hospital in Round Rock.
26 car pileup at FM620 and SH 45. These are the cars that remain. #atx #kxan pic.twitter.com/pARPXf4vRr
— Nick Bannin (@nickbannin) February 11, 2021
Drivers are encouraged to avoid the area.
Texas Department of Transportation crews are treating major roads and bridges but some ice is still forming, with trouble spots mostly clustered north and west of Austin.
The latest snapshot from https://t.co/FA8rsTh6VJ. Trouble spots are mainly north and west of Austin. Crews are treating, but please slow down and prepare for slick roadways. #TxDOTwx #BeSafeDriveSmart #KnowBeforeYouGo #EndTheStreakTX pic.twitter.com/c7D77l3Pfy
— TxDOT Austin (@TxDOTAustin) February 11, 2021
Austin drivers are not the only ones facing winter weather conditions. At least five were confirmed dead and dozens more injured after a 75-plus vehicle pileup left drivers trapped on I-35 just north of downtown Fort Worth Thursday morning, according to NBC DFW.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "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 jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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