What Do The Latest National Jobs Numbers Mean For Maryland’s Economy?

The U.S. jobs report released Friday presents some hope among business leaders but some politicians say the numbers are not reflecting what is happening in Maryland because the state is actually doing better than the national trend.

Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon expressed tempered optimism over the employment situation both nationwide and in Maryland.

“While the employment numbers are trending positive, it’s probably important to consider the context in which the vacancies occurred. The economic free fall that led us to where we are will have a ripple effect for at least the next year, maybe longer,” Weldon told MarylandReporter.com in an email on Friday.

He added: “As far as the election goes, whatever impact it might have on long term employment is nearly impossible to determine. Just tracking the ongoing electoral impact on the stock market gives us a sense of the unpredictability of the outcome, either way it goes.”

Weldon said that in his area he has seen some evidence of job growth.

“I know that there are employers in Frederick County that are actively recruiting to fill positions in several sectors, including life sciences, logistics and information technology. I also know of companies that have challenges in filling certain positions, especially customer-facing jobs.”

The U.S. Department of Labor released its September jobs report on Friday morning. It said that during that month 661,000 jobs were added to the economy and that the unemployment rate dropped from 8.4% to 7.9%. The economy grew by 1.4 million jobs in August. Friday’s jobs report is the last national jobs report before the Nov.3 presidential election.

Maryland added 24,200 jobs in August and the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.6% to 6.9%. Maryland’s September jobs numbers will be released on Oct. 23.

Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), who is vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said comparing the national jobs numbers to Maryland’s jobs numbers can be somewhat misleading.

“Over the last six to seven months Maryland’s job picture has been better than the national picture…I think that broadly speaking Maryland’s economy and Maryland’s job picture has been better than the national situation. So…its not clear to me how much you can read into those numbers as it pertains to Maryland…in large part because we continue to have a large number of federal jobs in certain industries that are somewhat different relative to the national picture.”

Sen. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City), who sits on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said it unclear what the national jobs numbers mean for Maryland.

“I think that right now we’re definitely in flux. We had numbers come out from the State of Maryland from a budgetary standpoint where the structural deficit wasn’t as bad as it looked. But I think that until we get out of this COVID-19 health pandemic we have to just be really mindful in reference t0 how we move forward-especially how we spend dollars and our future spending.”

Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County), also sits on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and is a candidate for Congress in the second district. Salling said he expects job growth to improve both nationally and in Maryland.

“There are a lot of people right now that have been unemployed but they’re picking back up their people. And I think they need more. We’re going to see a change-I think drastically for the better in the first part of the fourth quarter. And we’ll see the opportunity for people to get better jobs back at the same time.”

There are 126,222 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Friday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,806 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 2.93%, which is better than that of most state’s in the country. Maryland has tested nearly 2.7 million people for COVID-19.