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1 year of COVID-19 economic upheaval in Texas

In the past year, Texas reports it has processed as many unemployment claims as the previous five years combined.

DALLAS — Un-happy anniversary. It has been one year since the COVID-19 economic upheaval started in Texas. And while many have recovered economically, the struggle continues for many others.

In the last 52 weeks, more than $42.4 billion in unemployment has been paid out just in Texas. From March 2020 to March 2021, 7.2 million unemployment claims have been filed in the state. The Texas Workforce Commission says that’s more than the previous five years of claims combined. Most who filed have since returned to work, but at last count recently, 322,060 Texans were still making continued claims for jobless benefits.   

Previously, Congress extended "enhanced" federal unemployment benefits through March 14. The new COVID-19 relief bill that has been sent back to the U.S. House for final approval this week would extend enhanced jobless benefits through Sept. 9. The bill would also provide $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of Americans, with supplemental $1,400 checks for their children. 

Here are some of the latest details of what is in the final bill sent to the House for approval, after which it would still need to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

A year after the pandemic began here, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott set Wednesday, March 10 as the day when all types of businesses in Texas can resume at 100% capacity, which could open up more jobs. 

But in the past when we have seen more reopening, it has been followed by more job search requirements for those receiving unemployment. 

"Work searches are unaffected by this order," according to the Texas Workforce Commission. "The work search numbers will continue to be determined by local Workforce Development Boards based on the health and safety circumstances of their regions.” 

You can check how many work searches are required in your county here.

If the number on that site differs from what the TWC has told you directly, go with the number you have personally gotten from the agency. 

As of this writing, TWC shows that for Dallas County, zero searches are required. In Tarrant County, three work searches per week have now been instituted. In Denton and Collin counties, five searches per week are required. That is the highest number in the state. 

That same weekly number is also required in several other North Texas counties including Ellis, Erath, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, and Wise.  

For more information on work search requirements, including the activities that qualify as a work search, click here. 

Also, TWC says its list of valid reasons someone can refuse work are still in effect.