Texas Economy Adds 237,800 Jobs in May as Reopening Gains Momentum
AUSTIN, TEXAS — The Texas economy added 237,800 nonfarm jobs in May, bringing its current unemployment rate to 13 percent, according to a new report from the Texas Workforce Commission. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s unemployment rate was among the lowest in the country, clocking in at 3.5 percent in February, and the current rate of 13 percent falls below the national rate of 13.3 percent. The bulk of the employment gains — 176,400 jobs — came in the leisure and hospitality sector as hotels, restaurants, bars and movie theaters have reopened at limited capacities and with social distancing guidelines in place. Education and health services also contributed to the growth, adding approximately 52,000 new jobs. One of the first states to implement an aggressive reopening plan, Texas entered Phase III of its economic recovery plan in early June, allowing businesses to expand from 25 to 50 percent occupancy. On June 12, restaurants were permitted to boost their capacities to 75 percent, and on June 19, the state gave amusement parks and carnivals the green light to reopen at 50 percent capacities. About 2.6 million unemployment claims have been filed in Texas since mid-March when the pandemic began.