Empty Downtown

Downtown New Braunfels during rush hour on Monday, April 27, 2020.

MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

The economic fallout from the coronavirus and resulting business closures led to dramatic rises in unemployment rates in New Braunfels and Comal County in April compared to the previous month.

According to data from the Texas Workforce 

Commission on Friday, New Braunfels’ unemployment rate rose to 13.3% last month, which was higher than the city’s 4% rate in March. New Braunfels’ rate in April 2019 rate was 2.4%.

The TWC data showed that the number of people employed in New Braunfels fell from 41,219 in March to 34,817 last month.

The number in the civilian labor force, the amount of people working or looking for work who are not employed with any government or military institution, shrunk by nearly 3,000 people in April compared to the prior month.

The unemployment rate in Comal County was 11.9% in April, rising from the 4.6% rate in March.

The data showed that the number of people employed in Comal County fell from 69,711 in March to 58,843 in April.

The number in the civilian labor force fell in April by more than 6,000 people compared to the prior month.

Michael Meek, president of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, said he has never seen numbers like this in New Braunfels and Comal County in his lifetime.

“When you have a country literally shuttered due to a pandemic, this is what occurs,” Meek said. “The good news is that this was not caused by an economic issue. Thus, when the nation and world has preventive solutions for the COVID-19 disease, the economy will bounce back. Until then, we are slowly recovering. The other good news for us is that our local tourism industry is well situated for the Texas drive-in market. If we were dependent on air travel for visitors, we’d be in worse trouble.”

The Texas economy lost nearly 1.3 million nonfarm positions in April compared to the previous month. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 12.8%, below the national average of 14.7%.

According to the Texas Tribune, April’s unemployment rate is Texas’ worst monthly tally on record. Previously, the state’s worst-ever monthly unemployment rate was 9.2% in November 1986, as Texas reeled from the last big oil bust.

Surrounding counties also saw their unemployment rates rise in April: Hays County, 12.8%, an increase from 3.9% in March; Guadalupe County, 10.9%, an increase from 3.9% in March;  Bexar County, 13.7%, an increase from 4.5% in March; and Kendall County, 9.4%, an increase from 4% in March.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a measurable effect on the Texas economy,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel in a statement. “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.”

In April, all major industries in Texas experienced job loss over the month.

The leisure and hospitality industry in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area lost more than 56,000 jobs in April compared to the previous month, according to TWC data. The private sector in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area shed nearly 105,000 jobs in April.

The number of unemployment claims in Comal County has declined over the past several weeks, although at still high levels, from 1,418 for the week ending April 4, according to TWC figures, to 607 for the week ending May 9.

By comparison, 33 claims were filed for the week ending May 9 in 2019.

Employment estimates released by TWC are produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. All estimates are subject to revision.

Commission warns jobseekers of scams

The Texas Workforce Commission advises job seekers that individuals misrepresenting businesses may attempt to secure sensitive personal information through deceit. This fraud can take the form of a bogus job opportunity used as bait to solicit information.

Unfortunately, criminal actors may take advantage of situations such as the COVID-19 crisis to conduct employment scams and fraud. TWC reminds all jobseekers to practice caution when providing anyone with personally identifiable information.

Dishonest individuals may use public sources, such as social media accounts, to find personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses. These bad actors may then use this personal information to make job seekers believe legitimate sources are contacting them.

Below are some indications that you may be a victim of an attempted scam by someone pretending to represent a company:

• An offer of employment without an interview.

• The offer is vague, and the employer is not willing to provide specific details until after you meet with them or provide personal information to them.

• The individual says there is a fee for assisting with submitting your application or for the interview.

• The individual is charging a fee to purchase a sales kit, equipment, classes, or any type of license.

• An offer that sounds too good to be true, such as exaggerated claims of possible earnings or profits.

• Bad grammar or misspelled words in emails or texts.

• The employer is requesting that you transfer funds or receive packages for reshipment as part of the interview or application process.

• It is an unsolicited email for work-at-home employment.

• The individual requests to conduct interviews in a home setting or a hotel room.

Always research the company to ensure it is authentic. If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a company, contact your local Workforce Solutions Office or the Better Business Bureau.

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