Texas’ high unemployment rate during the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an extension of benefits for residents that could mean nearly two more months of aid.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Texas Workforce Commission announced that the designation of the state by the federal Department of Labor as experiencing a High Unemployment Period on June 26 would trigger an extension of unemployment benefits for Texans that goes into effect July 5.

The announcement came a day after the state announced it would pause the work-search requirements for Texans to receive unemployment benefits.

The extension of unemployment benefits is part of the multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package passed by Congress earlier this year.

“(High Unemployment Period) was triggered when the seasonally adjusted total unemployment rates exceeded 8% and were greater than 110% of the corresponding rate in both prior years,” Wednesday’s announcement said. “In May, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Texas was 13 percent.”

The non-adjusted unemployment rate for Nacogdoches County was 9.9% as of May, according to the commission, with 2,539 people out of a 25,616-person workforce without work.

In the city, 10.1% of workers were without jobs, as 1,316 people weren’t working out of a total workforce of some 13,028 people.

The 12-county Deep East Texas Workforce Development Area had an unemployment rate of 12%, with 17,142 people out of work out of a labor force of 142,619.

Statewide, May’s adjusted unemployment rate sat at 13%, with 1.75 million Texans without jobs out of a 13.49 million-person workforce. The unadjusted rate was 12.7%.

The High Unemployment Period designation will add seven more weeks, or 30% of the regular maximum balance, once already extended benefits expire.

“Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, previously extended unemployment benefits for 13 weeks starting March 29, 2020. State Extended Benefits, triggered on May 31, 2020, provided up to an additional 13 weeks starting July 4,” Wednesday’s statement said. “Individuals qualifying for 13 weeks of State Extended Benefits would transition to High Unemployment Period the week ending October 3, 2020. While triggered on, High Unemployment Period increases the maximum potential number of weeks for claimants on regular unemployment to 59 weeks and individuals on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from 39 weeks to 46 weeks.”

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