ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland saw a jump in unemployment claims, and lawmakers hope to make tackling the unemployment crisis a focus of the new administration.

In just one week, the unemployment rate in Maryland has nearly tripled. The new administration has plans to reverse that with a big focus on those who have been out of work for more than six months.

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The first full week of 2021 brought a big increase of unemployment claims in Maryland, with more than 31,500 Marylanders filing for benefits. The highest numbers came in from Baltimore and Prince George’s counties, recording more than 3,200 claims each in the past week alone.

31.5K Marylanders Filed For Unemployment Last Week

“We’ve seen thousands of people lose their jobs during this pandemic,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

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Van Hollen plans to make the unemployment crisis a priority, with a focus on those experiencing long term unemployment, meaning anyone who has been out of work for more than six months.

“Once someone is out of work for more than six months, we find it gets hard and harder for them to find a job, and when they do, it’s often at a lower wage than when they had their previous job,” he added.

Van Hollen said he’s been in contact with President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and plans to fight the issue on multiple fronts.

“It’s really important that we bring resources that address these issues,” Van Hollen said. “That includes job training. It may also include giving employers incentives to hire people who have really been left behind. People who are desperate to find work.”

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It’s not just Maryland seeing a spike. Across the country, nearly one million Americans filled unemployment claims in the first week of 2021.

Sean Streicher