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Texans receiving the $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation supplement will lose those funds starting June 26. Gov. Gregg Abbott on May 17 announced the state will opt out of the program. 

Abbott said he informed the U.S. Department of Labor that the state will not be part of any COVID-19-related federal unemployment compensation.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” the governor said in a media release. “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.”

Abbott pointed out that these numbers don’t reflect all job openings in industries such as construction and food service, which often aren’t listed through the commission. He went on to state that there are 60 percent more listed job openings now in Texas than in February 2020, a month before the pandemic hit and lockdowns closed many businesses.

In March, Abbott declared Texas 100 percent open for business following the extended closures and occupancy restrictions. 

His office said the focus now should be on connecting people with jobs rather than paying unemployment benefits “to remain off the employment rolls.”

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, 45 percent of the jobs listed through its services pay $15.50 per hour or more, and 76 percent pay over $11.50 per hour. Less than 2 percent of the listings pay around the minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour in Texas. 

Those looking for employment can check the commission’s job search site, which also offers resources for employers seeking staff.

Abbott said he also took Texas out of the federal unemployment compensation program to reduce the number of fraudulent claims. In the May 17 media statement, the governor’s office reported that the Texas Workforce Commission estimates 18 percent of all claims filed during the pandemic are “confirmed or suspected to be fraudulent.” This totals more than 800,000 claims and would cost taxpayers as much as $10.4 billion if all those claims had been paid, according to the release.

This opt-out only applies to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program and not other federal unemployment programs. 

editor@thepicayune.com