Maryland added 18,200 jobs in September while the state’s unemployment rate increased from 6.9% to 7.2%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday morning.
The state added 24,200 jobs in August. The national unemployment rate is at 7.9%.
“It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Maryland’s recovery is still very fragile despite jobs being added month over month since the beginning of this crisis,” National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) state chair Mike O’Halloran told MarylandReporter.com in an email on Tuesday.
O’Halloran added: “The slowdown in job growth from August to September shows just how unsure small business owners are about what will happen in the near future let alone the long term. That’s equating to more unemployment claims.”
Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClarty attributed the slowdown in job growth to congressional failure to reach an agreement on a second stimulus package.
“I think we are starting the see the pressures faced by businesses of not having additional federal support. Previous CARES funding, state programming, and local government programs to a lesser extent was able to delay some of the very difficult decisions before business. For some businesses, the various support mechanisms was able to stabilize them and allow them to remain operable. For others, it simply delayed the inevitable.”
McClarty said Maryland’s hospitality industry could take a big hit come winter.
“With winter approaching, there is a high degree of uncertainty for food and hospitality. Food services continue to have most of their patrons eating outdoors which will be difficult come Thanksgiving through Q1. The hotels continue to have it tough as few companies and organizations are hosting events which typically create a business holiday season prior to a slow January and February.”
“Make no mistake that certain industries, particularly those in the hospitality sector, will more than likely face a tougher situation as winter rolls in.”
Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon noted that in his area of the state he has seen continued demand for jobs at the lower end of the wage scale.
“We’ve seen some consistency in opportunities for work through our employment agency partners, for both full and part-time jobs. These might not be at the top of the income scale, but despite the stresses on the economy from COVID, trades-related jobs, manufacturing, and life sciences continue to advertise for employees.”
Weldon added: “That said, it’s undeniable that COVID continues to stymie economic growth across all sectors. While Maryland has so far avoided the dramatic increases in new infections we’ve seen in other places, even a slight uptick as weather conditions change is worrisome.”
MarylandReporter.com asked the three business leaders what the state can do moving forward to help small businesses.
“Our members feel very strongly that when the legislature reconvenes in January, they should avoid at every turn passing legislation that will add costs to being a job creator in Maryland,” O’Halloran said.
“In regards to state support, the state can assist with additional small business lending programs, delay the increase or implementation of various fees, and anything that will cause the operational cost to rise,” McClarty said.
“I’m hopeful that the Maryland General Assembly 2021 session will focus on the impacts of COVID-19 on our smaller employers and business owners,” Weldon said. “I know that Del. Derrick Davis, Chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, is looking closely at this issue in preparation for the upcoming session.”
Weldon served in the House of Delegates from 2003-09.
The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 13.
Maryland entered the final stage of the state’s recovery plan on Sep. 4. Movie theaters and other entertainment venues have reopened with capacity restrictions, as have restaurants, bars, and gyms.
There are 136,744 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,904 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 3.2%, which is better than that of most states in the country.