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San Antonio, Bexar County Unemployment Rate Reaches More Than 13% Amid Pandemic

Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Downtown San Antonio

The Texas Workforce Commission released unemployment data for the state on Friday showing Bexar County and the City of San Antonio saw unemployment rates of about 13.7% for the month of April.

The unemployment rate is nearly three times what it was for both the city and county in March at the start of the pandemic, when stay at home orders were issued by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Overall, the unemployment rate in Texas is 12.8%.

The Bexar County Commissioner’s Court and San Antonio City Council are exploring potential programs for job training and recovery using funds from the federal government’s coronavirus relief funds in the CARES Act.

Nirenberg and Wolff suggested the public can help revitalize the economy and jobless rate through purchasing power.

“Two-thirds of the economy is consumer purchases,” Wolff said. “Consumers don’t buy anything, [then] there’s no jobs, and I know in some cases they can’t [buy anything]. But if we don’t support our local businesses, if we don’t help them, we are going to continue to be in quite a trap.”

Parts of the state’s economy began reopening in May, with retail store fronts allowing customers back inside -- under the governor’s executive orders -- and bars reopening on Friday.

Nirenberg encouraged people to buy local, but to do so safely with proper protections.

“Consumer confidence has to return, and that is built on us being mindful of the public health guidance. Let’s open in a careful but sustained manner,” Nirenberg said.

In March , city staff predicted San Antonio would see an employment rate reaching 14%.

The Texas Workforce Commission combines areas of the state to report industry impacts. For the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan statistical area, the TWC listed more than 93,000 jobs lost. Combined, the area around the two cities reached an unemployment rate of 13.2%

Across the state, 1,298,900 jobs were lost.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a measurable effect on the Texas economy” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “While we will continue to provide assistance to those seeking unemployment benefits, many employers are hiring, and TWC is working to provide resources to job seekers as well as employers as the state opens up.”

The hardest hit area industry for San Antonio and New Braunfels was Leisure and Hospitality, with a loss of 56,700 jobs.

Between early March and early May, more than 116,000 Bexar County residents had filed unemployment claims, according to TWC. 

San Antonio is a tourist destination, and with fewer travelers and occupied hotel rooms, the hotel occupancy tax has seen a massive decline of about $54 million. As a result, the city is anticipating a budget crunch that forced it to furlough more than 200 employees.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules