Texas Workforce Commission handling renewed unemployment benefits funded by COVID relief bill

The Texas unemployment rate dropped from 8.1% in November to 7.1% in December, though it's still more than double the state

unemployment rate from before COVID-19 hit.

People with unemployment claims are starting to see the renewed unemployment benefits funded from the COVID relief bill passed before the end of last year.

The Texas Workforce Commission has handled nearly 7 million unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic.

While 64,000 more jobs were added statewide last month, many people are still relying on the unemployment benefits because they still can't find work, or are working reduced hours.

The COVID relief bill includes an extra $300 in federal benefits for those who are unemployed.

The TWC is modifying claims in stages, and so far, they have already modified more than a million active claims.

Frank Rivera worked for the YMCA in Downtown Dallas, and he is still out of a job.

"I’ve been doing a couple job searches a week, doing the 1-3 minimum, but right now, nothing. So I am focusing on school right now," he said. "Fortunate for us, my wife has a good job. She has been putting in a lot of overtime as well. She got called back late May, and she’s been back ever since in the office."

TWC officials said they are still processing new claims.

"All Texans who are still unemployed due to COVID-19, and qualify for benefits, will have them extended until March 13 and receive the additional $300 per week. No one should have to reapply for benefits," said Cisco Gamez, with the TWC.

They said if people are already in the system, they should keep requesting checks, but do not re-apply because it will slow down the system.