Maryland added 10,200 jobs in October while the state’s unemployment rate increased from 7.2% to 7.8%, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning.

The state added 18,200 jobs in September. The national unemployment rate is at 6.9%.

Maryland’s business leaders said the state’s latest jobs numbers are cause for concern.

“Considering the unemployment rate rose slightly, the number of jobs created down compared to the previous month and the national unemployment rate being less than Maryland, there is some concern,” Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClarty told on Friday.

McClarty added: “The uptick in the COVID-19 positivity rate creates greater concern for already strained industries like hospitality, retail, and restaurants. The last two months of the year typically are big months for hotels and eateries as people travel for family gatherings and businesses hold year-end functions. Restaurants often benefit from the same as well as the dining that takes place while shopping. The recent restrictions will certainly place a damper on those industries. Not to mention, we may not see as much temporary hiring in the retail sector. One thing to watch for is logistics, i.e., transportation and distribution as people conduct more online shopping. That may create an opportunity for job growth even if for a short period of time.”

Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon echoed similar sentiments.

“I remain deeply concerned that between the public sentiment regarding life amid COVID and the additional restrictions being implemented by state and local government, necessitated by increased community spread, whatever chance we had for a fall recovery will be lost over the next several weeks.”

Weldon added: “Now is just such a crucial time for our small retail and food services sectors. So many of our business partners make a substantial portion of their income over the holiday shopping season that anything that lessens consumer confidence or access will be catastrophic to our local economies.”

Weldon said the considerable progress in job growth made over the past few months may soon become moot.

“It doesn’t really matter what jobs have been created over the last few months if additional operational restrictions will effectively eliminate the need for those positions in the months ahead.”

Maryland ranks 9th nationally in terms of states with the worst October unemployment rate recovery, according to a WalletHub study released on Friday.

There are 177,086 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Friday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 4,245 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 7.17%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 4 million COVID-19 tests.

Gov. Larry Hogan touted the testing milestone in a statement on Friday.

“Over the past eight months, our state has built a COVID-19 infrastructure from scratch, including a successful long-term testing strategy. This unprecedented undertaking has required a tremendous amount of collaboration, including an extraordinary effort to negotiate with a foreign country. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our partners—especially the healthcare workers at all of our testing sites—who continue to help us expand our testing capabilities as we confront this new surge of the virus.”

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