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Number of Texans filing unemployment claims increased for second week in a row as 117,244 sought benefits

Workers boarded up bars on West 6th Street in Austin after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered them closed for the second time in three months on June 26.      Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune
Workers boarded up bars on West 6th Street in Austin after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered them closed for the second time in three months on June 26. Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

As Texas experiences a surge of coronavirus infections, more than 117,244 people applied for unemployment claims last week, an increase of 21.4% compared to the week before. It was the second week in a row that the number of claims rose.

Since mid-March, nearly 2.8 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in Texas. The peak of unemployment claims came in early April, when more than 315,000 Texans applied for the benefit in a single week. During June, as businesses reopened, the demand for unemployment benefits decreased, but it was still more than five times larger than the number of applications than during the same month last year.

The overall unemployment rate for June is scheduled to be published next week. Texas’ unemployment rate hit an all-time high of 13.5% in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May, the unemployment rate slightly fell to 13%.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s worst-ever monthly unemployment rate was 9.2% in November 1986, as Texas reeled from the last big oil bust. Later, during the Great Recession, the unemployment rate in the state never surpassed 8.3%.

The state’s unemployment rate is the share of Texans in the labor force who are out of work. The unemployment rate is different than the raw number of people filing for unemployment insurance because some of those filers are still employed but have been furloughed or had their hours cut.