Almost 42,000 people filed first-time unemployment benefit claims in the last week, according to the Maryland Department of Labor.
The 41,941 claims for the week ending June 13 is 11,523 fewer than the week before. Despite the decrease, last week’s filings continue the three-month trend in which each week’s report dramatically exceeds the largest number of claims for any week of the Great Recession.
Not included in the report for June 13 are an additional 43,797 claims that were reclassified under a federal program meant to extend benefits beyond the traditional 26 weeks.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits including for those who have already exhausted their existing benefits.
Starting last week, the state Department of Labor made changes it said were meant to expedite claims.
Some claims filed under traditional unemployment insurance rules were reclassified under the new federal program. And while the state is not counting the claims as new claims, federal guidelines require that the state report the total number of claims for the week that ended last Saturday as 86,286.
A separate federal program created as part of the CARES Act provides temporary unemployment benefits for self-employed and so-called gig workers who were not traditionally covered. In Maryland, 1,196 people filed first time claims — down slightly from the 1,390 who filed the previous week.
So far, 795,251 people have filed for benefits in Maryland at some point during the last 13 weeks.
Gov. Larry Hogan has been under increasing criticism from the public and lawmakers over unpaid claims, including some pending from March.
On Wednesday, protesters gathered outside the Department of Labor’s office in Baltimore to demand payment.
The national unemployment rate for the week ending June 6 was estimated at 14.1%.
Nationally, more than 1.5 million people filed for benefits, a decrease of about 48,000 compared to the week before, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
That was down from a peak of nearly 7 million in March, and it marked an 11th straight weekly drop. But the number is still more than twice the record high that existed before the pandemic. And the total number of people receiving jobless aid remains a lofty 20.5 million.
The figures surprised and disappointed analysts who had expected far fewer people to seek unemployment aid as states increasingly reopen their economies and businesses recall some laid-off people back to work. The data also raised concerns that some recent layoffs may reflect permanent losses as companies restructure their businesses, rather than temporary cuts in response to government-ordered closures.
The report is “telling us that the scars from the job losses in the recession will be longer-lasting than we expected,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.
At the same time, Thursday’s figures may have raised as many questions about the state of the job market as they answered. Jobless claims generally tracks the pace of layoffs. But they provide little information about how much hiring is occurring that would offset those losses. In May, for example, employers added 2.5 million jobs — an increase that caught analysts off-guard because the number of applications for unemployment aid was still so high.
Some likely factors help explain why applications for jobless benefits remain so high even as businesses increasingly reopen and rehire some laid-off workers. For one thing, many businesses that deal face-to-face with customers — from restaurants and movie theaters to gyms and casinos — remain strictly limited to less-than-full capacity. Some of those establishments are still cutting jobs as a result.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.