BULLETIN: 84,000 Marylanders Filed Unemployment Claims Last Week

Residents of a "Hooverville" in Ohio in 1938. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection

As Maryland workers and employers begin to feel the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 83,000 Marylanders filed unemployment claims last week, according to new numbers released by the U.S. Labor Department Thursday morning — almost double the number that filed the previous week. More than 6.6 million workers sought new unemployment benefits nationwide.

 

The latest number for Maryland — 84,230 — confirms the prediction of state Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson, delivered to members of the General Assembly Wednesday, that the number from two weeks ago would be “blown out of the water.”

42,334 Marylanders filed unemployment during the week that ended on March 21.

That compares to the 3,852 people who filed for unemployment the week that ended March 14, and the 2,090 Marylanders who applied for benefits a week earlier. The latter figure is close to the weekly statewide average.

But the numbers are almost certain to go even higher in the weeks ahead, and Robinson warned lawmakers Wednesday that the state trust fund that pays for unemployment benefits could wind up being depleted.

For many workers, unemployment insurance is a vital safety net that provides some funding for life’s necessities, like housing and food and medicine.

But how strong is the safety net, actually?

The state’s unemployment insurance fund is funded by the payroll taxes that Maryland’s employers pay. Last year, 148,000 employers paid $442 million into the fund, Dayne Freeman, assistant secretary for Unemployment Insurance at the Maryland Department of Labor, said in an interview. In Maryland, the payroll tax rate is 1.99% — that’s lower than many states.

Meanwhile, a federal payroll tax funds the Maryland Department of Labor’s costs associated with administering unemployment insurance.

Overall, the unemployment trust fund had about $1.176 billion in it as of Tuesday, Robinson said.

The federal government has been taking action to ease the bleed on the economy by paying for the first week of unemployment insurance benefits claims filed through the balance of the year, in addition to providing zero-interest loans for state unemployment trust funds.

Robinson said the unemployment benefits will be available for those who need them for an extra 13 weeks. Currently the state only guarantees 26 weeks of unemployment payments.

The state’s goal is to cover about 54% of an unemployed individual’s lost wages, Freeman said, but there are limits. Generally speaking, the state pays between $50 and $430 a week, depending on a worker’s lost income.

Here is a list of unemployment claims filed during the week that ended March 28, by jurisdiction.

Claim Filed By: PhoneInternetAgentPaper
Allegany120107600
Anne Arundel235874602
Baltimore City397828404
Baltimore County4501289507
Calvert20117901
Caroline3940400
Caroll672608010
Cecil3994800
Charles34169100
Dorchester3936800
Frederick174364701
Garrett5150100
Harford110403201
Howard109354500
Kent1926000
Montgomery211917300
Non – Maryland4284881014
Prince George’s238849901
Queen Anne’s4672700
Somerset2322800
St. Mary’s13111600
Talbot3655400
Unknown556
Washington177238000
Wicomico175172100
Worcester141127202
Totals by Type:3,39680,791043
Total Claims:84,230

 

Nationally, the 6.6 million Americans who sought new unemployment benefits last week doubles the number who filed claims during the week that ended on March 21.

Hannah Gaskill contributed to this report.

[email protected]

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.