Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is ending the state's supplemental unemployment benefit sooner than expected. Business leaders and trade associations support the move, but some legislators are pushing back.
“It's been a real challenge to try to get people to come back to work,” Maryland Restaurant Coalition President James King said.
King owns six restaurants and has taken a hit since the pandemic.
“Consumer confidence has now increased,” he said. “We’re seeing people coming back to restaurants and we simply don't have the staff to take the revenue.”
He said his was among the trade associations that asked Hogan to stop the state's $300-per-week supplemental unemployment insurance benefit. Hogan is ending it in July instead of September.
“You are choosing the profits of companies over the wellbeing of our citizens,” said Del. Dereck Davis, D-District 25, chairman of the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee.
Davis said since business wants to take away the unemployment benefit, the state should help impacted workers and begin raising the minimum wage to $15-an-hour next year instead of 2025.
“If they're saying there is a critical shortage of workers, then that means there is an increased demand for their products and services,” Davis said.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
Hogan’s office released a statement, saying, in part, “Vaccines and jobs are in abundant supply, and businesses are eager to hire. For example, there are more than 6,000 leisure and hospitality job openings alone listed on the Maryland Workforce Exchange.”
Pew Research Center found many unemployed seriously considered changing fields, especially in the restaurant industry. Some have childcare concerns; others are opting for higher paying jobs that are more stable.
“Nobody is getting rich off of unemployment insurance even with the enhanced benefit,” Davis said.
Some delegates have been talking about having an emergency session to try to reverse the governor's decision, but Davis said it’s not clear that they have the authority to change what the governor has decided to do, so they're asking their attorneys to look into it.
Maryland also will end benefits for people who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks.
Payments to gig workers who were receiving $100 weekly also will stop.
More than 175,000 Marylanders receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.