A&M economist predicts unemployment will fall now that extended benefits have ended

The most recent report on our local economy shows healthy growth despite sustained levels of elevated unemployment.
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:11 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - “Those unemployment benefits were, to some extent, generous compared to perhaps the income that people were earning prior to losing their job or to being laid off during the pandemic. And so the incentives to return to work were perhaps not as strong as they would’ve been without those supplemental payments.”

That’s one of the reasons Director of the Texas A&M Private Enterprise Research Center (PERC) Dennis Jansen offered to explain an odd paradox happening in our local economy: businesses struggling to hire and retain employees, while unemployment remains near double pre-pandemic levels. That while our economy appears to be growing.

That’s according to the latest PERC report.

The supplemental unemployment benefits from the federal government ended in Texas on June 26. Jansen says that might actually be a good thing for local unemployment numbers.

“Things might be changing,” Jansen explained, “hopefully a lot of this changes in the coming fall.”

Jansen said the leisure and hospitality industry has suffered the most from the pandemic in our local economy.

“It has recovered, but it’s sort of stubbornly sticking around three-fourths of the level of employment that occurred before the pandemic,” Jansen explained.

He said the full return of the Texas A&M University student body, the return of 100-percent capacity at Kyle Field, and reduced restrictions will be motivators for restaurants to find employees to meet what’s expected to be pre-pandemic levels of demand.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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