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Maryland Department of Labor reports cutting unemployment claims backlog in half over past week, still 35,000 claims pending

The Maryland Department of Labor reported Thursday that it has processed more than 93% of the nearly 540,000 unemployment claims that have been filed in the state since the coronavirus pandemic began in early March, leaving almost 35,000 claims in an adjudication backlog.

Those claims, pending because of unresolved issues, represent about 6.5% of the total claims filed in the state from March 9 to June 13, though the department notes that is less than half as many as were in the backlog last week. On June 11, the department expedited more than 78% of its pending claims by switching those claims from regular unemployment to pandemic unemployment assistance, a program created under the coronavirus relief bill.

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“Our department recently implemented a fix that has led to substantial progress in processing unemployment insurance claims, resulting in tens of thousands of eligible claimants receiving their benefits,” Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson said in a statement. “However, there is still work to be done. Our department is committed to helping Marylanders through this pandemic and our team will not stop until we have served each and every one of our claimants.”

Another 42,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed in Maryland last week, though that count is more than 11,000 fewer than the prior week. Those dealing with the system, however, remain frustrated, protesting outside of the Maryland Department of Labor building in Baltimore on Wednesday.

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More than three-fourths of those who have filed a claim for benefits have received payment, while 18.1% of claims have been denied, most often because of issues regarding monetary ineligibility or the separation from the applicants’ most recent employer. Over $2.7 billion has been paid out to the more than 405,000 claimants who have been approved.

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