Maryland added 53,900 jobs in July and the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 8% to 7.6%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning.
The state added 68,300 jobs in June. The national unemployment rate is at 10.2%.
MarylandReporter.com asked the state’s business leaders to assess the jobs numbers.
“There is cause for concern on these numbers,” Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClarty said in an email on Friday.” It shows that many businesses are still continuing to struggle despite our economy starting to open. In some instances, the jobs we are seeing come back were previous furloughs or a reduction of hours. In some instances, we won’t see a real uptick in job growth until there is consumer confidence that they will not get sick if they attend a public gathering.”
McClarty added: “While it is hard to say, there is concern that some jobs may not return. Until there is a vaccine and the economy is fully stabilized, many businesses may choose to operate in a scaled down manner so as to conserve cash.”
McClarty said it is “paramount” that Congress pass another stimulus package.
Congress is on recess until after Labor Day but lawmakers are working behind the scenes to craft a new bill.
Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon said the slowdown in job growth is not a great surprise.
“The slowdown seemed almost predictable in light of the continued controls over fully reopening the economy, both here in Maryland, regionally and nationally.”
Weldon said many of the businesses that have reopened have yet to yield a profit.
“Those businesses that have reopened are almost all, except for essential categories, barely profitable. Whole sectors and categories are hanging in by thin margins, and have reemployment pretty much everyone their constrained resources will allow.
Weldon said businesses that have yet to reopen are unlikely to do so.
“For those businesses that have yet to reopen, even partially, it’s probably safe to assume at this point that they won’t.”
Weldon said he is concerned about how Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s corporate tax plan, which calls for raising the top rate from 21% to 28%-would affect small businesses.
“I have to acknowledge serious questions about the logic that a corporate or business tax increase makes sense in the midst of a viral pandemic where most businesses are dealing with government control over their normal operations.”
Maryland Retailers Association president Cailey Locklair echoed similar sentiments.
“This is not the time to raise taxes period. Attacking job creators to solve complex problems is not the answer.”
Gov. Larry Hogan touted the state’s jobs numbers in a statement on Friday.
“We are doing much better on our health metrics than most of the country, and we are doing much better on our economic recovery than most of the country, and we want to do what it takes to keep it that way,” Hogan said in a statement. “I want to thank the many businesses that have been taking the health and safety precautions so seriously, and those that have been taking the ‘Maryland Strong: Back to Business Pledge’ and displaying it on their storefronts and places of business. Your actions are helping us get more Marylanders back to work, and keep Maryland open for business.”
There are 102,899 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Friday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,536 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 3.08%-a new record low. Maryland has tested more than 1.7 million people for COVID-19.