Unemployment claims fall, benefits extended


The number of new unemployment claims in Gonzales County fell significantly in December 2020.

Weekly claims, according to Texas Workforce Commission data, fell to pre-pandemic numbers in December. Available data through Dec. 26 shows a general downward trend since peak claim numbers were reached in April and May, when new weekly claims hit the upper 80s. 

In the months leading up to coronavirus-driven unemployment spikes, it was typical for less than 10 new claims to be submitted each week. For weeks ending Dec. 5, Dec. 12, Dec. 19 and Dec. 26, they remained below 15. This is the longest unemployment claims in the county have remained this low since the end of March 2020. Unemployment rates for December 2020 were not yet available at publishing time.

Compared to 2019, unemployment rates at the local, state and national level are much higher. In November of 2020 Labor Market statistics for the Golden Crescent Workforce Development Area, which includes Gonzales, Lavaca, DeWitt, Goliad, Victoria, Jackson and Calhoun Counties, show November’s unemployment rate was 7.7% compared to 3.2% a year ago. At the state level, the unemployment rate rose to 8.1% from the previous year’s rate of 3.4%, and 6.4% at the national level from 3.3% in 2019. Rates have doubled, as COVID-19 continues to impact the economy at all levels.

On Dec. 31, the Department of Labor extended the expiration date for CARES Act benefits to Mar. 31, 2021, according to a press release. There are three programs which are funded by the CARES Act: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. Each program, has different extension lengths for total weeks of benefits received, but all of them expire on Mar. 31:

  • Under the PUA, claimants may now be eligible for up to 50 weeks of total unemployment eligibility, or eligibility through Mar. 31, whichever happens first.
  • The PEUC now allows for a total of 24 weeks of eligibility or eligibility through Mar. 31. However, claimants need to finish all 13 weeks of the Extended Benefits program before they can receive additional PEUC benefits.
  • The original FPUC compensation, or supplemental payments, which was introduced under the CARES Act, will resume with $300 weekly payments up to 11 weeks. This program restarted Dec. 27 and will run through Mar. 31. To qualify, claimants must be receiving Unemployment Insurance, PEUC, EB, Trade Readjustment Allowance, Disaster Unemployment or PUA.