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Carroll County unemployment claims decline from previous weeks but remain high during coronavirus pandemic

According to data released by the Maryland Department of Labor on Thursday, over 1,000 Carroll County residents filed for unemployment in the week ending April 18, continuing the higher-than-normal rates seen during the coronavirus pandemic.

In that week, 46 people applied via phone and 1,023 applied online, for a total of 1,069, the data shows. That’s down from a total of 1,423 people who filed for unemployment the week ending April 11 and almost a third of the 2,979 people who filed for unemployment the week ending April 4.

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Carroll saw 2,685 claims for unemployment insurance in the week that ended March 28, which was more than double the previous week’s 1,158 claims. For comparison, 31 people in Carroll filed unemployment insurance claims the first week of March.

The pandemic of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has forced businesses to close and companies to furlough or lay-off employees while measures have been put in place to limit the spread of the virus.

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In response, Carroll County’s commissioners created a program to distribute small business grants of up to $1,250. Up to $500,000 of the county’s small business loan fund was to be used.

Denise Rickell, manager at the Carroll County Business/Employment Resource Center, or BERC, has said that many people applying for unemployment are expecting to return to their previous employer when businesses re-open. BERC closed its in-person offices, but staff have been returning phone calls and offering information through BERC’s website, carrollworks.com, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CCBERC.

On the state level, 47,545 Maryland residents filed claims for unemployment insurance the week ending April 18, a decrease of about 14,000 from the week prior. The rate of claims has declined this month after setting a record for the week ending April 4, when 108,508 Marylanders filed for unemployment.

From March 15 through April 18, more than 344,000 people filed for unemployment in Maryland, easily eclipsing the roughly 215,000 jobless claims the state said it received in all of 2019.

Nationally, the rate of unemployment claims continues to be high, but is also seeing a similar decrease. The federal Department of Labor said in a release that 4,427,000 people filed for unemployment insurance the week ending April 18, a decrease of 810,000 claims from the week before.

Residents who typically work full time or part time are eligible for unemployment. Under state and federal legislation passed to address losses during the pandemic, benefits are now also available to some people who have not been formally laid off or work in “gig economy” jobs if they have lost work because of coronavirus-related closures or slumps in demand.

A list of frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and Maryland’s Unemployment Insurance Benefits Administration is available at http://labor.maryland.gov/employment/uicovidfaqs.shtml.

Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.

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