Maryland’s economy gained 8,400 jobs in November and the state’s unemployment rate decreased from 5.7% to 5.4%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning.
The latest numbers mean that the state’s unemployment rate is at its lowest level since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic more than 21 months ago.
“The fact that both the national and state employment statistics are trending upward is an encouraging sign,” Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon told MarylandReporter.com.
However, Weldon said he is “deeply worried” about the difficulty many employers are having finding reliable workers.
“This holiday season, unlike any in my memory, we see far more signs relating to “help wanted” than we do ads for holiday sales. Employment agencies and job services are flooded with job vacancies, but not job seekers. The COVID Delta and Omicron variant infection spread adds to my concern that we are still not beyond the pandemic, and therefore we’re not able to fully address The Great Resignation.”
Washington County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Paul Frey said that while he is “somewhat” concerned about the state’s unemployment rate being considerably higher than that of the national average, he expects that it will decrease in the near future due to increased labor demand.
“Demand for products and services is strong and people are returning to the workforce because they are running out of savings and the government-funded financial support programs. A number of employers in the local manufacturing and warehousing industries have reported success in hiring in just the last two weeks. With that said, accessible and affordable childcare is still a concern and a real issue for some people. This may be why there is still a segment of prospective workers that are not yet able to return to the workforce and will continue to keep the unemployment numbers slightly elevated.”
Gov. Larry Hogan touted the state’s latest jobs numbers in a tweet on Friday morning.
“During the month of November, Maryland added jobs more than twice as fast as the rest of the nation and saw the lowest unemployment rate since the beginning of the pandemic. Maryland gained 8,400 jobs last month, and has gained a total of 91,000 jobs since the beginning of 2021.”
The release of the jobs report comes as COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations are on the rise both in Maryland and throughout the nation.
And Friday saw Hogan announce a series of additional actions after the state’s COVID-19-related hospitalizations exceeded 1,200.
“Having surpassed 1,200 COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide, we are triggering a new round of actions for Maryland hospitals, including making available all-staffed bed capacity and reducing non-urgent medical surgeries,” Hogan said in a statement. “The vast majority of these hospitalizations are unvaccinated patients, who remain at grave risk of serious infection, severe illness, and death.”
The governor added: “Based on preliminary data, Omicron is believed to be far more transmissible than previous variants, and it is anticipated to rapidly overtake Delta as the main driver of new cases. Initial studies indicate that higher levels of immunity from booster shots do provide more protection, which makes it more important than ever that every single Marylander who is eligible for a booster shot should get a booster as soon as possible.”