Maryland’s economy gained 22,200 in jobs in July and the state’s unemployment rate from dropped from 6.2% to 6.0%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning.
The June jobs report initially projected that Maryland had lost 6,400 jobs during that month. However, that figure was later revised upwards by several thousand to show that the state actually gained 1,100 jobs in June. The national unemployment rate is 5.4%.
“I can only assume that the increase in July jobs has some correlation to Governor Hogan’s signaling his intent to end the enhanced unemployment assistance benefit as soon as he could,” Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon told MarylandReporter.com. “His statements, and the accompanying media coverage and outrage from his political opponents, undoubtedly signaled that those who were able to work might be best served by seeking employment prior to the enhanced benefits termination. Additionally, increases in compensation and the promise of signing bonuses and other incentives also probably had a positive impact.”
Weldon said the economic impact of the rapidly spreading Delta variant is not yet clear.
“The question is whether the results for serious health consequences and deaths attributed to COVID climb rapidly. In other countries that have seen significant delta variant community spread, the statistics have taken a frightening spike but then almost immediately began a comparable decline. Vaccination rates, mask mandates, and some of the more severe restrictions announced recently (healthcare facilities, schools, live performance venues) may be enough to limit the impact on the long-term job statistics.”
Washington County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Paul Frey said the recent jobs report relays some degree of “good news” when compared with that of the previous month’s report.
“From what our local businesses are telling us, the improvement in their ability to fill open positions seems to be attributable to three reasons: school is going back to in-person instruction; more people have been vaccinated, and the extra federal enhanced unemployment benefits are ending on September 6. Employers are hiring workers at excellent hourly rates, as well as with comprehensive health care benefits.”
As for the economic impact of the variant, part of it depends on whether businesses will be able to mandate the vaccination for their employees.
“The surge in Covid infections has the business sector nervous for fear of another shutdown, and what that would likely do to the momentum that has been gained over the past several months. The feedback from our business community is that once the FDA officially approves the vaccines, it will be easier for those employers wanting to mandate vaccinations the ability to do so.”
Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClarty said there are a multitude of factors that will determine what effect the variant has on the state’s economy.
“Maryland has a much higher vaccination rate than other states and I believe this is also leading to more business activity. Certainly, the Delta variant is raising concerns and one of the early signs of impact will be what happens as schools open. If workers are sidelined because of waning daycare options and sick children alongside the restaurant and hospitality industry taking a hit because of reduced hours and capacity then we could be in for a challenging fall.”
* On Friday morning the Department of Labor initially projected that the state had gained 12,400 jobs in July. The Department later revised that figure to the current projection of 22,200 jobs added.