Md. reports adding 30,000 jobs in May; jobless rate drops to 9.9%

Education and health services led the way as Maryland added nearly 30,000 jobs in May, dropping the state’s unemployment rate to 9.9%.

News of the added jobs — still fewer than the total number of first-time unemployment claims made last week — comes as the state continues to move through the second phase of reopening the economy after closing businesses to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The education and health services sector added the most jobs last month — 9,300 — followed by the professional and business services sector with 9,000 jobs in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The leisure and hospitality industry, one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, added 5,500 jobs.

Hotels, restaurants and casinos reported losing more than one in every three jobs lost during the first two months of the pandemic in the state. In all, the sector showed a decline of 120,000 jobs in April compared to March and more than 137,000 jobs compared to February 2020.

Gov. Larry Hogan in recent weeks has announced a series of eased restrictions that have allowed restaurants to open for limited indoor dining and casinos to begin to reopen, starting at 5 p.m. on June 19.

Still, the state is seeing weekly reports of first-time unemployment benefits claims that exceed any week during the Great Recession.

On Thursday, nearly 42,000 filed for first time claims during the week ending June 13. That figure does not include another 43,797 claims that were reclassified under a federal program meant to extend benefits beyond the traditional 26 weeks.

In all, nearly 800,000 Marylanders have filed for unemployment at some point in the last 13 weeks.

The addition of jobs in May dropped the state’s unemployment rate from 10.1% last month to 9.9%. Nationally, the rate is 13.3%.

Employers added jobs in 46 states last month, evidence that the U.S. economy’s surprise hiring gain in May was spread broadly across the country — in both states that began reopening their economies early and those that did so only later.

Unemployment rates fell in 38 states, rose in three and were largely unchanged in nine, the Labor Department said Friday. The disparities ranged from Nevada, with the highest rate (25.3%), Hawaii (22.6%) and Michigan (21.2%) to Nebraska (5.2%, the lowest) and Utah (8.5%). The overall U.S. unemployment rate in May was a still-high 13.3%, a decline from 14.7% in April.

As a whole, the figures illustrate the unusually broad nature of the recession, with all states enduring unemployment rates that soared in April as the coronavirus forced business closures and then generally fell in May but remained painfully high. During the 2008-2009 Great Recession, by contrast, some Midwestern states such as Iowa and North Dakota managed to avoid high unemployment. Yet this time in May, Iowa’s unemployment rate was a high 10% and North Dakota’s 9.1%.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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