ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — More than 18,000 Marylanders filed for unemployment last week, according to new numbers released Thursday from the state’s Department of Labor.
According to the state, a total of 18,383 unemployment claims were filed the week ending on Halloween. That’s slightly down from the previous week when 19,946 people filed claims.
More than 8,000 of the claims were new, according to the state.
Since March 9, the labor department said 94.8% of the completed claims filed have been processed, of which 80.1% received benefits and 14.7% were denied for not meeting eligibility requirements. Another 5.2% of claims are pending, nearly all of which — 98.3% — are disputed and need further investigation.
Of the claims that were flagged and investigated, 84% were found to be fraudulent. The labor department has 4,969 claims it’s investigating as potential fraud.
Over the past week, the labor department said its BEACON 2.0 system has blocked tens of thousands of fraudulent claims that fraudsters filed using real Social Security numbers and addresses.
Since March 9, the labor department said it has paid out $7,846,328,268 in state and federal benefits.
Despite those numbers, numerous Marylanders are still reporting issues getting unemployment benefits. Some said they call numerous times to ask about stalled benefits but they get disconnected.
Single mother Mallory Thompson, one of the thousands filing for unemployment, has been struggling throughout the pandemic. When her two-year-old daughter wanted to be a princess for Halloween, she wasn’t sure how she’d buy a costume.
“I have a Target credit that’s over its limit basically but I had to put it on there because I didn’t have cash to pay for it,” Thompson said.
She has since turned to food stamps to cover groceries for herself and her daughter.
“At this point, I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” she said.
Hope Woodward, who is also unemployed, echoed similar concerns with trying to get answers.
“You don’t get any answers and you don’t get any money,” she said.
Paula Lee Andrese agreed.
“The number that they give you is the number on this document, which you can’t get through to,” she said.
On Wednesday, Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson said the state is fixing the problems with increased staffing and new computer software.
“We are in the process of actually tripling the size of the division to handle this crisis,” she said.
Gov. Larry Hogan added the state has hired hundreds of employees and added phone lines.
Still, many said it’s taking too long to get the system under control.
“Answer the darn phone — not with a recording,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said. “These are people that are in real distress.”
Nationwide, the number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits last week ticked down to 751,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, a slight decline from 758,000 applications the previous week.
Another 363,000 people applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special government relief program for self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for regular federal or state unemployment aid, CBS News reported.
Here’s a breakdown of the claims:
|MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR DIVISION OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
TOTAL CLAIMS FILED BY COUNTY
Week Ending – October 31, 2020
|Claim Filed By:||Regular UI||PUA (New)||PUA (Reclassified)*||PEUC Claims**||EB Claims|
|Non – Maryland||2,254||590||11||413||47|
|Totals by Type:||10,081||2,923||170||4,962||417|
|Total Regular UI Claims:||10,081|
|Total New PUA, PEUC and EB Claims:||8,302|
|Total New UI Claims:||18,383|