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Southeast Texas unemployment back up to 12.5 percent for September

Economic analysts hoped once Texas started reopening, the unemployment rate would go down, but that has not been the case in the Golden Triangle.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The unemployment rate is back up again in Southeast Texas, another side effect of the coronavirus pandemic. 

As of September, 12.5 percent of Southeast Texans are out of work. That number is still lower than our peak unemployment in April, but also still higher than last month's rate. 

Here are a few tips for anyone on the job hunt.

Unemployment numbers have been up and down since the start of the pandemic in March. Economic analysts hoped once Texas started reopening, the unemployment rate would go down, but that has not been the case in the Golden Triangle. 

"Right now, with the pandemic, the amount of paperwork we're dealing with is historic," Texas Workforce Commission Beth Dismuke said at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The paperwork is probably even more historic now, with thousands of Texans still without jobs. 

"Our average number of calls per day was 13,000," Dismuke said. "When the pandemic hit, we had 3 million calls coming through in a day."

Backed-up phone lines could explain the headaches of finding a job or even getting unemployment benefits. In our six-county region, the latest unemployment numbers paint a bleak picture. 

September 2020's job report data reports unemployment at 12.5 percent. September 2019 unemployment for this area was only 5.4 percent. 

Industries hit the hardest are leisure and hospitality, down 25.5 percent, followed by mining, logging and construction down 17.7 percent and professional and business services down by 16.9 percent. 

Texas Workforce Commission officials said they want these people to be able ot get back to work. 

"There are over 675,000 jobs available right now," TWC media specialist Cisco Gamez said. 

Anyone needing to apply for a job should visit WorkforTexas.com, then register and create a profile to begin a job search. 

Keep in mind that job search requirements will be reinstated soon. 

"I'm going to formally notify the commission that we will be reinstating work search effective Nov. 1," TWC executive director Ed Serna said in a virtual meeting.

This announcement means each week, each person applying needs to complete three job searches to keep unemployment benefits.  

"We have 180 workforce officers throughout Texas," Gamez said. "They are open, you can call them or email them. They provide services for job seekers and employers."

12News asked the Texas Workforce Commission why unemployment numbers in this area are so high, but did not receive an immediate response. 

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