Unemployment claims increase across Maryland, Virginia

Federal numbers show a large increase in new unemployment claims for Maryland and Virginia during the first week of August.

Virginia saw the highest increase in the nation in week-to-week new unemployment claims during the week ending on Aug. 7. Maryland wasn’t too far behind, ranking third for the largest week-to-week increase.

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According to the Department of Labor, 17,277 Virginia residents filed new unemployment claims during the week ending on August 7th. That’s an increase of over 4,000 compared to the week before.

In Maryland, 7,087 residents filed new unemployment claims during that same week. That’s an increase of close to 2,000 people compared to the week before.

FOX 5 spoke to an economics expert about who says these new numbers could be increasing for a number of reasons including concerns over the delta variant but he adds it’s not a reason to panic.

"There’s a lot of reasons why different states would have different unemployment claims numbers increase week to week. Sometimes it’s just noise, sometimes it’s paperwork issues. Delta is going to hit different regions differently. Consumers may act differently in different regions and there may even be local business conditions where maybe seasonality is different," Tom Graff, Head of Fixed Income and Portfolio Manager at Brown Advisory in Baltimore said.

According to July numbers, the national unemployment rate is currently at 5.4%. That’s down from 5.9% in June.

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State unemployment numbers for July will be released Friday but in June, Virginia’s unemployment rate was below the national average at 4.3%. Maryland’s rate was slightly above the national average at 6.2%.

Graff says in order to get the rate down lower, employers may need to raise wages to get people back into the workforce.

"First of all that tends to lead to a healthier economy, if people are making more money. But I also think it will help bring people back into the labor force which is going to be good for overall growth," Graff said.

Graff says he’d like to see the national rate drop to at least 4%.

More people are expected to reenter the workforce after Labor Day when federal unemployment benefits are set to expire.