Unemployment insurance tax stays at top level

Maryland employers will continue paying the maximum rates for the state's unemployment-insurance tax next year but could see improvement in 2013, state officials say.

Maryland has been stuck at "Table F" — rates ranging from 2.2 percent to 13.5 percent of the first $8,500 in wages paid, depending on an employer's layoff history — since last year. Fast-climbing joblessness during the recession sapped the trust fund used to pay out claims to laid-off workers, but the fund is beginning to recover, Julie Ellen Squire, the state's assistant secretary for unemployment insurance, said Friday.

"If claim payments remain at or below 2011 levels, we are on track to move down to Table E in 2013," she said. "It's possible if the economy continues to improve, we might even be in Table D in 2013."

Current rates range from $187 to $1,147.50 per employee for any worker paid at least $8,500. Table E rates range from $153 to $1,096.50. Employers were paying the lowest possible rates — Table A — as recently as 2008, early in the recession.

The trust fund, which plummeted from $895 million in September 2008 to $273 million last September, is now up to about $460 million, Squire said.

Maryland needed a loan last year from the federal government to continue sending out jobless benefits but paid it back in December, before any interest was due. Twenty-seven states have yet to pay off their loans, and some have had to increase taxes on businesses to cover the interest payments.



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