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Austin gem, University of Texas professor and celebrity Matthew McConaughey looked the part of a Texas politician sitting in front of an American flag when he took to social media to discuss the winter storm that had ransacked his home state.
McConaughey, a native Texan and Austin homeowner, announced that with all the damage and repair work in store, he and wife Camila are working on a virtual benefit put on by their just keep livin Foundation to help the state get back on its feet. They are also posting daily updates on their social media on resources available.
"While most of the power is, thankfully, being restored, the busted water lines from hospitals to so many homes has left so many Texans without the bare necessities they need to survive," McConaughey said in the video.
The Austinite is just one of several native Texas celebrities and influencers who have reached out or donated to the Lone Star State.
Beyonce and sister Solange are working with organizations in their hometown of Houston to bring relief to residents. Beyonce, as part of her BeyGood Foundation, has teamed up with The Bread of Life Disaster Relief Assistance Fund's Houston branch. The fund is providing up to $1,000 in one-time assistance to Texas residents in need, but the first round of applications are already closed due to high demand.
Meanwhile, Solange has partnered with Mutual Aid Houston to provide assistance to homes after the devastating freeze.
Longhorns football alumnus Michael Huff has swept aid across the state, first paying for thousands of tacos as well as hundreds of BBQ plates and chicken sandwiches while most Austinites could only hope for warm food. He later sent the same amenities to residents of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.
East Texas native and country music star Kacey Musgraves took a topical spin on helping the community with a commemorative jab at U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who left the state for a Cancun vacation. T-shirts with the phrase "Cruzin' for a Bruzin'" selling on her website will benefit causes including the American Cross of Central and South Texas, Casa Marianella and Feed the People Dallas.
Petition for @tedcruz to retweet this link. A quick and easy way to really help from the comfort of your home! We're halfway to raising $100k for Texas! Come on, Ted. https://t.co/TglB3AsEkt
— K A C E Y (@KaceyMusgraves) February 19, 2021
And close to home Austin food blogger Jane Ko partnered with Austin FC and local Austin restaurants, helping thousands of hot meals be delivered around the city with the more than $90,000 she raised to go toward relief efforts. Additonally, Austin musicians Willie Nelson and Jackie Venson retweeted resources and help to their audiences.
U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez proved that you don't have to live in the Lone Star State to send help, while advocating for better living conditions and instructing Texans on basic steps to help ensure FEMA aid. And in the same fashion, model and influencer Chrissy Teigen asked followers for their expertise, retweeting helpful information to a large global following.
Texas still has a long way to go in terms of recovery but one thing is always certain: Texans are in it together.
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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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