Officials say unemployed Texans will have to start looking for jobs

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In early July, Texans who were receiving unemployment benefits will have start looking for work, but ABC13 asked state leaders if this could change with COVID-19 cases on the rise.

Experts say the number of those looking for unemployment benefits in Texas is at an all-time high after 3.4 million people have applied for unemployment since March, which is five years worth of claims in three months.

On the other hand, there are also record numbers of new jobs.

In May, the Houston area added more than 70,000 jobs, which is the largest monthly jump in history.

The timing couldn't be better for those on unemployment, because soon, they'll have to begin filling out applications.

"Work search requirements will be reinstated on July 6," Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Cisco Gamez said. "The first time someone would need to certify they're participating in work search activities would be on July 19, or later depending on when they made a payment request."

We asked leaders if the state is considering delaying the work search requirement.

In a statement given to ABC13, the Texas Workforce Commission said, "The Texas Workforce Commission will continue to analyze the situation and modify this position as necessary to support the economy, the businesses and unemployment beneficiaries of Texas."

ABC13 also asked TWC what happens if the state closes industries, causing people to lose their job a second time. The agency said people must re-apply again and it could take 21 days for benefits.

"We have to notify an employer that you have filed a claim," Gamez explained. "The employer has 14 days to respond to the notice. If you quit, or were fired, we'll have to investigate the job separation. Once we finish our investigation, we will notify you regarding your eligibility."

The job search requirement also applies to self-employed individuals. If you're one of them though, the state says it doesn't mean you have to apply for jobs.

"Examples of this would be updating their website, posting new content to social media, networking with people in search of new clients," Gamez said. Participating in a virtual job fair counts as search activity. On Thursday, ABC 13 hosted a virtual job fair with Workforce Solutions, with more than 30 immediate hire jobs available. If you're interested in applying for those jobs, click here.

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