Local unemployment rate climbs in March and April due to COVID-19

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —  During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate in the United States reached historic highs. The Texas Workforce Commission has released new data for unemployment here on the High Plains during March and April.

The data show the unemployment rate in Amarillo more than doubled during that time.
March’s unemployment rate was 4.8% and April’s was 10.4%. Nationally, Texas is still below the unemployment rate of 14.4% as Texas currently sitting at 13%.

We spoke with Trent Morris, Director at Workforce Solutions Panhandle and he said they are receiving tons of calls everyday from people who are ready to re-enter the workforce. He said their main goal is to match that person with the job that matches their qualifications even if its not the same job they had before the pandemic.

“We’re here to answer questions, talk to a live human being over the phone. Our main focus is try to reassure that the unemployment process is there. It may take some time, by the 1-800 number or our website, but we reassure the proper steps are there, but most importantly and especially in the near future help them find ways to go back to work,” said Morris.

Morris said even though their offices are not open right now, they are still assisting people over the phone and online.

Morris said they hope to have the office of Workforce Solutions Panhandle reopen by this month, in an appointment-only setting to reduce the number of people in the building.

Matt Ramsey, Senior Trust Invest Officer with Amarillo National Bank said that this is the first service sector recession and people could return to their jobs very soon.

“Hopefully that means if demand returns quickly those people can return to work soon, sooner than for example someone let off an automobile factory and you had to retrain your skills and something like that,” said Ramsey.

The data includes more information on other counties in the Texas Panhandle. Both Gray and Hutchinson counties have unemployment rates higher than 10%. The May unemployment data for the state is scheduled to be released on June 19.

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