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Two charts tell frightening story of El Paso unemployment crisis

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More than 19,000 people in the El Paso area have filed new claims for unemployment compensation in the three weeks since government began strict limits on movement to slow the spread of COVID-19. Workforce Solutions Borderplex released the latest numbers on Monday.

By contrast, El Paso’s total number of jobless in January — the most recent data available — was less than 15,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment claims only capture part of the number of lost jobs in recent weeks. Some people haven’t yet filed claims even though they’re eligible; others who lost their jobs may not be eligible for compensation.

The total number of jobless in El Paso is likely now well in excess of 34,000. El Paso County hasn’t had that many unemployed people since August 2011, when the nation was emerging from the great recession.

Here’s a look at El Paso’s unemployment trend since January 2010, including a projection of what the March 2020 numbers could look like with new unemployment claims added in. This does not include more than 6,000 new unemployment claims filed in the past week, which ended on April 3 and will be included in April jobless numbers.

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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