Hegar will answer questions about how the novel coronavirus outbreak in Texas has impacted the state’s economy and workforce. We’ll be discussing the dramatic increase in the number of Texans filing for unemployment relief in recent weeks; the depression of oil prices globally; and how the shutting down of local businesses across the state because of stay-at-home orders have impacted the state economy.
In recent weeks, many of the state’s largest cities and counties have issued “Stay Home, Work Safe” orders requiring residents to stay in their homes as much as possible and closing many local businesses except those deemed essential, such as grocery stores and hospitals. On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued such an order for the entire state.
As a result, the number of Texans filing for unemployment relief has increased in record proportions—increasing nearly 860% in one March week alone—and Hegar reported the state unemployment rate is heading toward 9% as the new coronavirus spreads.
Additionally, in early March the state’s oil and gas industry was dealt a major blow as global oil prices plummeted to their lowest point in decades. “Certainly, Texas has exposure if oil prices remain depressed for a sustained period of time, and slowdowns in economic activity related to the COVID-19 outbreak could also be a headwind,” Hegar said.
The economic double whammy of the public health crisis combined with the steep drop in oil prices has experts unclear about how deeply COVID-19 will impact the state’s economy.
Hegar, who was elected comptroller in 2014, serves as Texas’ treasurer, check writer, tax collector, procurement officer and revenue estimator. Previously, he served as a member of the Texas Senate and House.
This conversation will be live streamed starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7 here and on our social media channels. What do you want us to ask Hegar? Submit your questions above or tweet us using the hashtag #AskTrib.