Maryland added 24,100 jobs in November and the state’s unemployment rate decreased from 7.8% to 6.8%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning.
The latest data means that Maryland’s unemployment rate is now at its lowest level since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It was initially estimated that the state added 10,200 jobs in October but that figure was later revised upwards to 25,500 jobs. The national unemployment rate is at 6.7%.
MarylandReporter.com asked the state’s business and political leaders to assess the latest jobs numbers.
“It certainly seems like better news than recent reporting cycles,” Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon said.
Weldon added: “I can’t help but wonder how more recent COVID infection and hospitalization rates will effect that, as well as the ridiculous partisan delays in congressional action on another major stimulus package are going to impact upon employers and employment statistics for the next cycle.”
Maryland Retailers Association President Cailey Locklair said small businesses are hurting due to capacity restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
“Multiple counties have taken occupancy down to 25% meaning employers have had to lay people off. Holiday sales are down as much as 50% for brick and mortar retailers.”
Sen. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City), who sits on the Budget and Taxation Committee, noted that the pandemic has given some industries an advantage over other industries.
“We know that some industries have been hit very hard, in reference to tourism, hotels, restaurants and etc. And we also know that other ones have thrived, such as home improvement opportunities. Some in construction have done well…So it’s not an immediate surprise because we know that some have really struggled and some have really thrived.”
McCray went on to say that problems with the state’s unemployment system have exacerbated inequality.
“We still haven’t fixed our unemployment system for the state of Maryland. So anyone that’s still entangled with that system is really having a hard time.”
McCray said his constituents contact him on a regular basis about that issue.
“We are seeing a high concentration of folks that email us on a daily basis because of those issues over the unemployment system…That system is broken and I’m sure of it.”
Gov. Larry Hogan touted the state’s latest jobs numbers in a statement on Friday.
“Our economy and our workforce continue to prove their resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges. I want to thank the many businesses that are taking public health and safety precautions seriously so that more Marylanders can get back to work.”
There are 246,553 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Friday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 5,188 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 7.77%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 5.2 million COVID-19 tests.
Nearly 242,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported nationwide on Thursday.