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The Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area saw its unemployment drop by nearly a full percentage point in May, when Texas began allowing businesses to reopen after weeks of closure due to coronavirus concerns, according to state and national numbers released Friday.


That number translates to nearly 40,000 more locals working in May than were employed the previous month, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The region's unemployment rate remained below both the new Texas (12.7%) and national (13%) unadjusted rates.

The numbers represent the first decrease in the overall local unemployment rate since it skyrocketed from 3.7% in March, when businesses in Austin and across the state shut down to avoid spread of COVID-19, to 12.4% in April.

The Austin-area unemployment rate was down to 11.2%, according to the TWC and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Texas Workforce Commission) (Graph by Emma Freer/Flourish)

The unemployment rate was slightly higher when focused on Travis County, where the workforce was especially hard hit due to the high number of service and food prep industries, according to Workforce Solutions Capital Area, which offers job seeking and training services. That number was 11.6% and represented 81,466 residents who applied for jobless benefits that month.

The numbers are good news compared to the early days of the shutdown, but still high compared to previous recessions, the agency said.

About 49,000 people filed unemployment claims in the year between September 2008 and August 2009, known as the Great Recession—compared with 116,000 who sought benefits in the first three months of the pandemic

Key points by industry in the Austin-Round Rock MSA in May 2020, according to Workforce Solutions:

  • Leisure & Hospitality experienced the greatest increase with 15,100 jobs, followed by Other Services (4,700) and Financial Activities (2,500).
  • Other industries that experienced a jobs increase were Trade, Transportation, & Utilities (900), Professional & Business Services (800), and Mining, Logging & Construction (700).
  • Government experienced the greatest decrease with the loss of 6,300 jobs, followed by Information (-300).
  • Education & Health Services was the only industry to not gain or lose any jobs.
  • Financial Activities experienced the greatest regional annual job growth with an increase of 11.9%, followed by Mining, Logging & Construction (6.0%).
  • Industries that experienced a significant decrease in regional annual job growth include Leisure & Hospitality (-37.6%), Other Services (-18.6%), Education & Health Services (-13.4%), and Information (-12.4).

Some 123,900 people in Austin lost their jobs in April, according to TWC.

The Austin-Round Rock MSA includes Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop counties.

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Two days shy of the one-year anniversary of Texas' first confirmed case of COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he will rescind statewide pandemic restrictions, including business capacity limits and mask mandates, next week. Although businesses—especially those tied to the hospitality industry—have suffered financially over the last year, many Austin establishments are rejecting Abbott's order.

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(AUSTIN, TEXAS) Austonia has hired Claire Partain as a reporter covering Austin FC, the MLS expansion team that will be Austin's first major league sports franchise.

Partain is a former sports editor for the The University Star, Texas State University's daily newspaper. She edited, covered sports, produced podcasts, and hosted a pre-game TXST football tailgate live series. Partain has been freelancing with the company since January, prior to accepting a staff position.

A native of Fairfield, Texas, Partain grew up playing youth soccer. In her high school years, she played alongside her mother in what was then called the Freestone County Hispanic Women's Soccer League.

Claire's coverage philosophy: "I like to bring out the humanity of sports, and I want to make this the most accessible sports coverage possible."

She notes that soccer is the predominant sport for young people. "It's a global sport, and we're more connected to the world than older generations."

That approach fits the team's already visible presence in Austin, says Austonia CEO Mark Dewey. "Austin FC has established itself as a leading Austin brand, one that stands for a more unified Austin community, a bigger global presence for Austin and fun. Austonia shares those values."

Partain's soccer coverage begins immediately, with her free, hosted text service—Austonia FC. For updates, special access and inside info, all moderated by Claire, sign up below.

Austonia is the city's independent, free, locally-owned and all-digital source for Austin news, information and entertainment.

Connect with Austonia through its daily email newsletter and text updates, @austonianews Instagram feed, @austonianews and @austinist Twitter feeds, @austonianews Facebook page and its website austonia.com.

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