Abbott to end federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits for Texans

National Politics

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment compensation related to COVID-19, effective June 26.

On Monday, Abbott informed the U.S. Department of Labor of the decision, also opting out of the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

Abbott said that there are 60% more jobs open and listed in Texas today than there was in February of last year, right before the pandemic hit.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said. “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 benefits. That assessment does not include the voluminous jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs.”

Another reason for Abbott’s decision, he said, is because of the high level of fraudulent unemployment claims being filed.

“Fraudulent unemployment claims rob taxpayer money and do nothing to help the unemployed,” a press release from Abbott’s office said. “TWC estimates that nearly 18% of all claims for unemployment benefits during the pandemic are confirmed or suspected to be fraudulent, which totals more than 800,000 claims, worth as much as $10.4 billion, if all claims had been paid.”

Abbott said that at this stage of opening the state to 100%, the focus should be on helping unemployed Texans connect with job openings rather than paying unemployment benefits.

“The current job openings are good paying jobs,” the press release said. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, nearly 45% of posted jobs offer wages greater than $15.50 per hour. Approximately 76% pay more than $11.50 per hour. Only 2% of posted jobs pay around the minimum wage.”

Per federal law, the effective date of the change must be at least 30 days after the Secretary of Labor is notified, which is why the change will not happen until June 26.

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