MARYLAND (WDVM) — Seventeen-thousand Marylanders have applied for unemployment benefits just within the last week, according to Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, and that number is only going up. With coronavirus restrictions increasing across the state, many residents are once again facing the possibility of losing their jobs.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the state has more than doubled, according to Maryland Congressman David Trone. And as cases spike all over Maryland, state legislatures are looking for ways to continue to assist their constituents as current protections expire.
“People are literally being evicted from their homes because they’re not able to receive these unemployment insurance benefits,” said Van Hollen.
Even with representatives working to provide aid to Maryland residents, legislatures worry that the state of unemployment will get worse before it gets better and that Marylanders could see a shocking rise in the percentage. Even with the holiday season approaching, during which many people find temporary work due to the increased demand for retail employees, large layoffs are expected to occur around the start of 2021.
“There’s no question,” said Trone. “I could see ten percent unemployment, frankly, in a heartbeat.”
This is no doubt a stressful thought for residents of the state. Thousands of people are still waiting in long phone lines to reach the Department of Labor, and have been waiting for several weeks or months to be able to file their claims. State legislatures are aware of this backlog and are calling for something to be done.
“We are grateful to all the people who are processing those claims,” said Van Hollen. “But we also have to fix the system. The state of Maryland needs to improve.”
Along with working to improve the speed of processing claims, Maryland legislatures are working to expand the reach of the state’s benefits in order to help people who may have been previously left out of the conversation.
“The new legislation we’re working on will pick up part-time, gig workers, and extend for full-time workers, while this pandemic continues to reach the absolute high point it’s ever had,” said Trone.
Maryland’s congressional leaders seem to be cautiously optimistic about the future of pandemic relief, but they also emphasize that all Marylanders must work together in order to better our situation.
“If we want to open our schools and our economy, the best thing we can all do is wear a mask and listen to the public health experts,” said Van Hollen.