• The most recent jobs report showed that for the two-month period between December and February, Maryland gained a total of 16,500 Total Nonfarm jobs. All added jobs were a result of growth in the private sector.
  • Job gains for 2019 were revised down to 24,500 jobs, from a preliminary estimate of 31,000 jobs.
  • The unemployment rate for Maryland decreased to 3.3 percent in January and February.

According to the most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Maryland gained a total of 16,500 Total Nonfarm positions in the first two months of 2020. This total resulted from a 17,800 position increase in Total Private jobs, partially offset by a 1,300 position loss in Government jobs. In addition, the total job growth in 2019 was revised downward to 24,500 jobs, following an initial estimate of 31,000 jobs. Maryland’s unemployment rate continued to decease, reaching 3.3 percent in both January and February.

Although these numbers are strong, they represent the economy prior to the implementation of statewide emergency measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the governor banned gatherings of more than 10 people, closed Baltimore’s cruise ship terminal, closed all public schools, and closed all “non-essential” businesses. These closures include all Maryland universities, which are transitioning to online learning for the remainder of the semester. In addition, BWI terminals are open only to employees and ticketed passengers. Citizens are discouraged from using public transit unless they are considered essential personnel.

The economic effect of these measures is likely to be felt harder in certain industries. As stated by researchers behind the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index, workers are particularly vulnerable in “front line, customer-facing jobs that offer both low hourly wages and a limited number of hours per week.” RESI expects to see some of the largest downturns in subsectors including Accommodation and Food Service, and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation, which are affected directly by the mitigation actions and do not generally provide the opportunity to work from home. Retail Trade is also expected to take a significant hit as a result of widespread closures, although this will be mitigated by increased hiring at grocery stores and other essential retailers. Maryland will also see increased hiring of hourly workers for industries related to online shopping, including distribution centers and package delivery.

In response to the crisis, lawmakers at both the state and federal level have passed significant legislation intended to reduce the economic damage. In Annapolis, state lawmakers have expanded unemployment benefits to cover people who are ill for more days than their allotted sick leave, need to care for a family member, or whose employer has shut down as a result of the governor’s emergency measures. In Congress, legislators have already acted to provide sick leave to workers being treated or quarantined in relation to the virus, and are in the process of passing a larger stimulus bill. Once enacted, the stimulus will send a $1,200 direct payment to most Americans, increase unemployment eligibility to cover additional self-employed persons (e.g., freelancers and gig economy workers), and provide an additional $600 each week to unemployed persons to supplement their state unemployment benefits. It will also provide financial assistance to small businesses and major industries across the country.

While these stimulus efforts will help to reduce the economic damage of the coronavirus, there is widespread agreement that the United States is already on the path towards a significant recession. RESI will be providing employment updates and other coverage on this blog as additional information becomes available.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Employment Workbook

To make more sense of what’s happening with Maryland’s employment numbers, we’ve embedded our new tool: the Mid-Atlantic Regional Employment Workbook. This dashboard allows you to examine 29 different industries to see how employment is varying in Maryland, as well as four other states in the Mid-Atlantic region.