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Number of new Md. jobs declines again in August

A "NOW HIRING" is shown on the door of Padeli's Street Greek restaurant Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Utah has set new goals for fighting the coronavirus pandemic that include keeping the state's fatality rate below 1% and maintaining an unemployment rate below 4.5%, state leaders said. Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders rolled out their new plan, which prioritizes both public health and boosting the state's economy through the fall and winter. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

A “NOW HIRING” is shown on the door of Padeli’s Street Greek restaurant Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Maryland added more than 24,000 jobs in August, the lowest number in four months.

The unemployment rate dropped by nearly 1 percentage point to 6.9% after the Bureau of labor Statistics revised Maryland’s unemployment rate up .2% for July to 7.8%.

The unemployment rate for August is nearly twice the 3.6% reported for the same time in 2019. There are 175,800 fewer jobs compared to that same time a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Unlike many other states, we were able to keep more than 70% of our economy open throughout this entire crisis, and now, after entering Stage Three of our ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery’ earlier this month, all Maryland businesses are able to safely open,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. “Maryland truly is open for business, and our economy is getting back on track and making a steady recovery.”

Hogan issued an executive order last month allowing the state to enter phase three of his reopening plan with increases in capacity for retailers as well as allowing movie theaters and indoor and outdoor entertainment venues to open at a limited capacity. Those orders did not include increased capacity for bars and restaurants. Many larger jurisdictions have delayed fully implementing Hogan’s phase three plan.

The number of new jobs in the report announced Friday for August was less than half the total number of jobs, 53,900, that returned to the state in July.

Maryland is one of 41 states who reported lower unemployment rates in August compared to July and is one of 29 states to have a rate lower than the national rate of 8.4%.

The biggest hiring gains were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 5,800 jobs, and the accommodation and food services category, which added 4,000 jobs. The arts, entertainment, and recreation subsectors added 1,800 jobs. Professional and business services added 5,100 jobs, and trade, transportation and utilities added 3,700.

Despite the growth in jobs, some businesses continue to contract.

Purple Line Transit Partners, which was building a 16-mile light-rail line between Prince George’s and Montgomery counties under a public-private partnership, notified the state in late August that it would lay off at least 478 people as a result of its decision to withdraw from the project. The state and contractor have been at odds over the state’s refusal to reimburse more than $500 million in cost overruns related to 976 days of delays.

The state lost a bid last week to block the company from withdrawing and may have to assume management of the construction project.

Hogan, speaking Friday morning to the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said state revenue declines because of the pandemic and the lack of federal aid to the states will make transportation projects more difficult.

“It’s going to be even more challenged,” said Hogan. “I’m going to see if we can get our federal partners to step up, but each of our budgets is extremely challenged and we’re going to have major shortfalls in them, especially without that fourth stimulus package, without that $500 billion we’re asking from the federal government for state and local governments. It’s not just our metro system but every transit system, every bus system, every light rail and every transit project in America is going to be impacted by COVID.”

In all, the state has added more than 183,000 jobs since May. Since adding more than 68,000 jobs in June, the state has seen a decline in the number of jobs added back each month.

On Thursday, Maryland reported more than 13,500 new people filed for unemployment for the week ending Sept. 12, an increase of about 2,200 from the previous week. The latest number of claims remains larger than the most filed in any one week during The Great Recession.

On Thursday, State Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson said about 400,000 residents continue to receive some kind of unemployment benefits.

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