Houston-area job losses, unemployment rate reach record levels in April

A man looks at signs of a closed store due to COVID-19 in Niles, Ill., Thursday, May 21, 2020. More than 2.4 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the viral outbreak that triggered widespread business shutdowns two months ago and sent to economy into a deep recession. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Job losses and the unemployment rate in the Houston area reached record levels in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released by Workforce Solutions Friday morning.

The economy in the Houston area has taken a significant hit with more than 452,000 Houston-area workers now unemployed, according to the data.

“Not surprisingly, customer-facing industries were the hardest hit,” said Parker Harvey, the regional economist at Workforce Solutions. “Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants, bars and hotels, accounted for one out of every three jobs lost in April.”

Harvey said these businesses have been reliably adding jobs, but March and April have turned out to be an exception in the trend.

“There’s no two ways about it, the pandemic has been disastrous for the local economy,” Harvey said. “The period of seeing big leaps in reported job losses and unemployment claims is probably behind us, (but) when the trend will start to reverse is not at all certain.”

Unemployment that hasn’t been seasonally adjusted jumped nearly nine points from March to an all-time record high 14.2%, according to Harvey.

Michelle Castrow, a manager at Workforce Solutions, said that some companies are still hiring despite the downturn.

“We’re working with our employer partners daily and posting new job openings to wrksolutions.com/jobsnow,” she said. “If you are receiving unemployment benefits, we highly recommend registering in www.workintexas.com today to find new career opportunities and prevent any disruption to your benefits when the requirement to look for work is reinstated."

Additional labor market information can be found at wrksolutions.com/localstats.

The Texas Workforce Commission will release employment data for May on June 20, 2020.

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