Inequality is rising in Texas as unemployment benefits, eviction protections and utility shutdowns come to an end (2023)

sign up for a newsletter, our daily newsletter, keeps readers abreast of the most important news in Texas.

Rush hour picks up again and the city center pubs are loud, crowded and rowdy again. But relief from the COVID-19 pandemic also means the economic safety net is slipping away, and Texans struggling to make ends meet could soon find themselves in for more financial trouble this summer.

Federal unemployment benefits for Texans end Saturday. As of Tuesday, their power supply may be cut off if payment is not made. For renters, evictions will return to normal at the end of July.

"With the removal of the social safety net, we're going to start seeing disparities in the coming months, and people are going to have to figure this all out for themselves," said Pia Orrenius, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve in Dallas. .

Economic indicators show that while rents will remain relatively flat in 2020,The landlord has raised the rent again.. inflation is rising andthe expectation will continue to rise. credit card companyOffer deferrals or reduced paymentsThese stays are complete.

"It's a great return to the new normal and some families will be under more stress than others. It will all happen at the same time."

An order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has halted evictions of tenants who meet certain criteria, but that will happen.It will be released at the end of July.Following a month-long extension this week, the agency said it would be its final extension.

State regulators imposed a moratorium on power shutoffs in February after winter storms left millions of Texans without power for days, but the Public Utilities Commission recently lifted that moratorium; customers have to pay.

A federal unemployment benefits program that provides relief to contract and gig workers and provides an extra $300 a week to those receiving state unemployment benefits will end Saturday. government.Greg Abbott leave texasFederal aid was advanced, although it could have been extended until September. hundreds of thousands of Texanscurrently receiving benefits

Nakita Saddler, 35, is one of millions of people who lost their jobs last year. Previously, she worked as a restaurant clerk in Odessa and since then she has been unable to find a full-time job. As a mother still raising three of her four children, unemployment benefits of about $900 twice a month are usually enough to cover rent, but little else, she said. She owes about $3,500 in utility bills.

"I'm worried (disconnecting) because I've been paying little by little, but I still have interest and house bills ... it's difficult," he said. But, he added, "sometimes God makes this happen."

The end of the pandemic will be uneven

almost 40% of themFully Vaccinated TexansEconomic conditions are improving for many as businesses reopen or resume in-person services: Texasunemployment rateThe 6.5% rise in May was well below the 11.6% rise in May last year, as some businesses began to reopen after a month of closures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, the recession has wiped out nearly three years of job creation in Texas; The state economy has more than 400,000 fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic, according to seasonally adjusted state data. The pain is not evenly distributed.

White-collar workers can work from home and largely avoid layoffs, while workers in restaurants, bars, hotels, and entertainment, transportation, and personal care businesses have lost their jobs and many remain financially struggling or unemployed. .

For example, the Texas hospitality and food industry, which includes hotel and restaurant workers, employed about 1.1 million people in May. Before the pandemic, employment in the sector was last this low in March 2016.

And while accommodation and food companies have added 362,000 net jobs since May 2020, the sector has lost 118,000 jobs since pandemic-related businesses began shuttering.According to state employment data.

Meanwhile, the Texas financial industry employed 825,800 people in May, an increase of 7,600 since February 2020 (before the pandemic shutdown) and a record for the industry.

As the pandemic subsides, the gap between the employed and the unemployed has widened, exacerbating longstanding disparities between racial groups. The analysis shows that people of color are disproportionately employed in the service sector hardest hit by the pandemic.Dallas Federal Reserve Employment DataThe unemployment rate reflects this: In February, 12.3 percent of black workers in Texas were unemployed, compared to 9.3 percent of Hispanic workers and just 5.1 percent of white workers. . As of February 2020, the unemployment rates for each group were 4.7%, 4.7%, and 2.5%.

Orenius, an economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve, said losing the extra $300 in benefits could change people's habits. Higher unemployment benefits could provide cash to households in need when jobs are scarce, avoiding a further sharp decline in consumer spending. Now the consumption spending of low-income households can disappear with that extra money.

She noted that many women, especially women of color, have been forced to leave their jobs to care for their children during the pandemic; now they have to look for day care centers to find work.

Immigrant communities have also been hit hard by COVID-19 and are typically disproportionately underinsured; these families struggle with medical debt (if they live in mixed-status households, many would not be more likely to qualify for stimulus checks and federal unemployment benefits). Unvaccinated people are at risk of contracting new, more contagious strains of COVID-19 that are still circulating.

"People have access to a strong job market, but there are other complications that haven't completely gone away. If you think you're seeing a difference now, we'll see [more]."

can i still get help

Some programs are still in place and Texans who are having trouble paying their bills can ask for help. The Texas Rental Assistance Fund, which launched in February, has provided rent and utility payments to more than 61,000 households. About $14.8 million was distributed from utility bills alone, according to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

If you receive notice of a utility outage, the Public Utility Commission recommends that you:

  • Request an extended payment plan from the utility company. Texas regulations require that an extended payment plan be offered for at least five billing cycles.
  • Register with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for financial aid. Tenants can apply for a subsidy at the following address:Texas Rental Assistance Network. Homeowners can request a referral in the following ways:Extensive energy assistance program

To qualify for assistance from the Rental Relief Fund, households must earn 80 percent of the region's median income or less and pay less than the $4,600 monthly rental limit. For example, a family of four in Harris County qualifies if their household income is $63,350 or less and their monthly rent is less than $4,600.

However, the billion dollar plan ran into problems.Kayla informaand the distribution of aid can be slow. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs told the Tribune that the process has improved since its introduction, but it takes time to process applications that are often incomplete.

The fund's delay means that people like Odessa's mother Sadler think the aid will be too little too late. She said her power company had asked her to apply for help from the fund, which she applied for on May 31. Almost a month later, she still hasn't heard anything.

Meanwhile, his unemployment benefits will be cut by about 30% next week.

"Then it starts to look real," Sadler said. "It's already a reality, but it will be even more difficult."


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rev. Leonie Wyman

Last Updated: 26/08/2023

Views: 5775

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rev. Leonie Wyman

Birthday: 1993-07-01

Address: Suite 763 6272 Lang Bypass, New Xochitlport, VT 72704-3308

Phone: +22014484519944

Job: Banking Officer

Hobby: Sailing, Gaming, Basketball, Calligraphy, Mycology, Astronomy, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Rev. Leonie Wyman, I am a colorful, tasty, splendid, fair, witty, gorgeous, splendid person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.