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Maryland unemployment claims resume downward trend

FILE - In this July 8, 2020, file photo, a "Now Hiring" sign sits outside a Ross Dress for Less store, in North Miami Beach, Fla. Unemployment remains painfully high in the U.S. even as economic activity is slowly picking up. That reality will be on display Thursday, July 16, 2020, when the U.S. government releases data on the number of laid off workers seeking unemployment benefits the week prior and retail sales in June. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

FILE – In this July 8, 2020, file photo, a “Now Hiring” sign sits outside a Ross Dress for Less store, in North Miami Beach, Fla. Unemployment remains painfully high in the U.S. even as economic activity is slowly picking up. That reality will be on display Thursday, July 16, 2020, when the U.S. government releases data on the number of laid off workers seeking unemployment benefits the week prior and retail sales in June. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

First-time unemployment claims in Maryland have dropped to their lowest mark in 10 weeks.

The Maryland Department of Labor report released Thursday morning shows 37,383 people filed for benefits for the week ending July 11 — roughly 378 more than the claims filed on May 2, which was the smallest number since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Maryland.

In the past week, the number of claims filed by workers who are traditionally covered —18,657 — and those who were not  —18,726 — was almost even. This is the third consecutive week that claims from those workers outpaced those traditionally covered by the program. In every other week, traditional workers comprised the vast majority of filings.

Gov. Larry Hogan, speaking at a Wednesday news conference, said the state has processed a total of $4.3 billion in state and federal unemployment claims benefits since the start of the pandemic.

“In the Great Recession of 2008, it took 18 months to reach that number of claims here in Maryland, which the (labor) department has had to handle in the past few months,” said Hogan. “It’s equal to the total number of claims submitted in the past three years.”

Overall, 1,003,120 Marylanders have filed for benefits at some point during the last 17 weeks. Not all of those who filed claims continue to receive benefits. In May, Maryland added back nearly 30,000 jobs — less than one-tenth of the more than 318,000 claims that were filed that month.

Overall, the state reported 199,332 people filed claims for benefits in the month of June. It’s the third largest total in 2020.

The state is expected to update both the unemployment rate and how many jobs were added to the Maryland economy for June in a report Friday.

May in Maryland saw the largest number of unemployment benefits claims since the start of the pandemic. That same month, the state added back nearly 30,00 jobs — less than one-tenth of the more than 318,000 claims that were filed that month. The unemployment rate for that month was 9.9%, about three times the rate prior to the start of the pandemic.

Nationally, more than 1.3 million workers filed claims, a decrease of about 10,000 over the previous week. It is the 16th straight week that filings for benefits in the U.S. has exceeded 1 million claims.

The U.S. Department of Labor report added that Maryland reported the third-largest increase in unemployment claims nationally, 10,568, for the week ending July 4.

The department reported that those who are continuing to receive benefits as of the week of July 4 had decreased from roughly 18.1 million to 17.8 million people. Continuing benefits reports lag by about a week. Federal labor reports show that the number of people who are still receiving benefits has decreased for six consecutive weeks.

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