2020 | Coronavirus

Unemployment filings in Montgomery were up 1,500% last week

More than 4,300 from county filed for benefits this month

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Initial unemployment claims for Montgomery County increased 1,500% in a week, with more than 4,300 people filing this month.

During the first week of March, Montgomery County had 195 claims. That increased 26% the second week to 245 claims.

The third week, the number of claims was more than 16 times as high as the week before, reaching 3,941, as the fallout from coronavirus disease took a toll on business and employment.

According to employment data released on Dec. 13 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 479,505 people were employed in Montgomery County in June 2019.

Since March 1, Maryland has received more than 48,200 claims. It received 42,334 during the third week of March alone, coinciding with new restrictions Gov. Larry Hogan has put in place to stem the spread of the virus. One of those included forcing restaurants and bars to shut down, with the exception of takeout service and delivery.

Montgomery County, the state’s largest county, had the fifth highest number of unemployment claims behind Baltimore County, Baltimore city, Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County over the month so far.

Baltimore County had more than 7,600 claims. Kent County had the fewest, at 99.

Fallon Pearre, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Labor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday afternoon.

Pearre told Bethesda Beat on March 19 that the department was receiving a “substantial surge” in the number of people trying to apply for unemployment benefits.

On a normal Monday, the department receives about 1,100 claims, Pearre said. On March 16, it received around 5,400 claims.

She said the department had to increase its network bandwidth and extend its call center operations by two hours to keep up with increased phone calls and traffic on its website.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.