In the third week of July, new claims for unemployment benefits in Maryland fell by 3.8 percent, compared with a month before, the state reported yesterday.
The jobless claims report provides the most current data on the state's economy, and the decline in new claims, to 3,666 from 3,811 a month ago, is an encouraging sign that fewer people are entering the state unemployment system.
Compared with one quarter ago, total claims were down more than 13 percent.
"I think claims are definitely showing a downward trend," said Pat Arnold, director of the state's Office of Labor Market Analysis and Information, which compiles the weekly jobless numbers.
Even though the total number of claims was up in the latest
report, compared with the previous month, the benefits paid out in the third week of July fell to $8.84 million, from $8.97 million a month before. That could be the result of lower-paid workers entering the jobless rolls, Mr. Arnold said.
Still, all of the current unemployment numbers are dramatically higher than a year earlier. For instance, Maryland paid $4.94 million in jobless benefits a year ago; the latest report shows that number has jumped 79 percent. And where a total of 34,183 claims were processed a year ago, in the third week of July more than 59,000 people received unemployment benefits.
Mr. Arnold said that one abiding concern, albeit a small one, is that the number of people who have exhausted their 26 weeks of jobless benefits has increased in the last month or so, "indicating the persevering nature of this recession." But he said that number was lower than a year ago.