To slow the spread of infection, many of us saw we had a direct role to play: shelter-in-place. To help us weather this immediate economic downturn, what is our specific role, given we could have as many as one million Texans file for unemployment in just the last 30 days?
If you are looking for a new job, here’s what you can do right now:
Connect to Jobs Right Now. Austin is fortunate to have the world’s #1 Job Search Engine Indeed right here. As of Monday, there are 19,500+ job openings posted locally, from grocery to construction, to government to real estate to programmer. Workforce Solutions Capital Area has a live list of several hundred newly open local jobs as well, updated hourly, primarily skewed to entry level. Connect yourself, your furloughed or unemployed friends and neighbors to a new job.
Rapidly Upskill - If you have a window to upgrade your skills, use it. Try short courses in basic coding and web design. Build intermediate coding skills. Enroll at fully on-line Western Governors Association. Adult education and GED testing is moving on-line. Or complete the on-line components of health, commercial driving or and other hybrid skilled training. The world is on pause today for many, but the pace of digitization of education and work is long-term and accelerating. These pay well and are growing occupations. Workforce Solutions Capital Area will have a list of options in the next few days.
What else are we missing? Send thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As employers, here’s what many of you can do right now, if you are not already:
1.Reduce lay-offs through cash grants. Workforce Solutions has Rapid Response Dollars (cash grants) that employers can quickly apply for which can help them subsidize current employee salaries to avoid outright layoffs. Company leaders can reach out to Amber Warne at Workforce Solutions - email@example.com (WFS tries to keep phone lines open for unemployment claimants during these times).
2. Reduce lay-offs through federal small business forgivable bridge loans. Local for-profit and not-for-profit employers with fewer than 500 employees should also explore no- and low-interest forgivable loans through your financial institutions or through the Small Business Administration (SBA.gov) to those without other means of credit. These include:
Small Business Payroll Protection Project (first come, first served - $349B). This includes independent contractors and sole proprietors.
3. Explore Job Share. The Texas Workforce Commission and Workforce Solutions Capital Area can allow employers to supplement their employees’ wages lost due to reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits. Contact Amber.Warne@wfscapitalarea.com.
4. Train Your Existing Employees. “Skills for Small Business” and “Incumbent Worker Funds.” The TWC can subsidy your company's training of employees from $800-$1,600 apiece so you can be ready to accelerate your business as demand picks up. Contact Amber.Warne@wfscapitalarea.com.
5. Explore existing real estate footprint. While much of the tech private sector has significant experience with remote work, ‘physical distancing’ ordinances provide a forcing function for management on the amount of office space needed for a government or business enterprises. Additionally, the 87th Texas Legislature should pass Rep. Celia Israel’s proposals to structure and normalize remote working for state employees.
6. Offer internships. Internship offerings tend to track the economy: paid when it’s good, unpaid when struggling. We are struggling. While the previous Administration's regulations may make unpaid internships more difficult to offer, they are still possible. You can develop talent and provide yourself options if and when the economy swings back.
7. What else is missing? Send thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Texas Workforce Commission and local workforce boards – tasked with helping employers prevent layoffs and helping us file for unemployment and finding new work – have seen an unprecedented spike in demand for their services:
Texas Workforce Commission saw a 1.7M call volume on a single day.
Estimates are 1M Texans have filed for unemployment.
Estimates are March 2020 Central Texas unemployment has already increased 12-25x. over March 2019 (data will be released in mid-April).
Estimates from economic forecaster Ray Perryman are 77,000 Austin Metro friends and neighbors will lose their jobs (essentially rolling back the last 2+ years of regional job gains).
The Austin region's leisure, hospitality and entertainment industries employ approximately 125,000.
Our heroes in the Texas and regional workforce system are working days and nights to try to meet this spike of demand:
Workforce Solutions Capital Area – led by CEO Tamara Atkinson and her team – have been compiling and updating hourly a list of job openings. Paul Fletcher is doing the same with the Rural Capital Area Workforce Solutions.
Both the Capital Area and surrounding Rural Capital Area workforce boards have been calling employers and furloughed employees for wellness checks – neighbors looking in on neighbors – and helping them navigate unemployment.
Work in Texas, led by Texas Workforce Commission, is soliciting resumes and connecting people to posted job openings.
Volunteers from other parts of state government (Texas Senate & House staff, Parks & Wildlife, etc) are helping staff phones to assist those filling for unemployment..
In the next blog post, I hope to showcase that the Austin region is potentially in a stronger position to come out of this potential financial downturn more quickly than other U.S. regions.