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With the announcement of Joe Biden securing the presidency on Saturday, Austinites on both sides of the political spectrum gathered by the hundreds at the Texas Capitol to celebrate the president-elect and rally for President Donald Trump.
Starting around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, people gathered on 11th Street and Congress Avenue, congregating by their favored party. The street separated the two groups as vehicles honking passed through the streets decked out in flags reading "Biden Harris 2020" or "Keep America Great."
With police guarding each side of the street, there was chanting, dancing, yelling, sign-waving and commotion into the evening.
Austinites took to Congress in celebration of the newly-elected president, donning signs in support of their cause and beliefs.
Biden supporters took a corner, whereas Trump supporters gathered in front of the Capitol building and across the street.
The Trump side brought their signs as well, along with flags, megaphones and merchants selling garb for those who forgot theirs at home.
Police officers surrounded the area, guarding each side of the street. Though thousands of people showed up to the demonstration, only one was arrested: Darius Berkley. Berkley was arrested for pulling a knife on another protester after telling several attendees to leave.
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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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