The Maryland Department of Health reported 65 new COVID cases statewide on Wednesday.
That is the first time the state has reported fewer than 100 new daily cases since March 2020.
That is good news.
Gov. Larry Hogan also announced that Maryland was joining 24 other states in ending the $300 extra unemployment insurance help going to workers each month.
That move is much more complicated.
The $300 in “enhanced” federal unemployment benefits helped workers who lost jobs during the depths of the COVID pandemic.
Business groups and plenty of Republicans argue the extra monthly assistance proves to be a disincentive to work. They point to the scores of open jobs across the Shore, state and country.
Maryland will end the extra $300 in monthly unemployment help in July.
The issue is much more complicated than lazy workers on the proverbial dole.
We have too many jobs — locally and nationally — that don’t pay enough, offer benefits or upward mobility for workers.
Many workers saw their industries and workplaces hit by layoffs and pay cuts during the pandemic. Employee loyalty is unfortunately mirroring the loyalty they received from employers and market economy during the pandemic.
Closures of schools also resulted in a number of workers being forced to cut hours or quit jobs because of child care costs and challenges.
Plenty of those workers also saw stock market records and expansion of wealth among billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Elon Musk while they struggled mightily during the pandemic and its associated shutdowns. It can be discouraging and erodes social contracts.
Hogan is right, we need workers to get back into the labor force.
But the issue of jobs, workforce participation and filling vacancies goes well beyond the Republican narrative of workers living off some kind of COVID welfare state.
Employers will eventually be pushed by turnover and job vacancies to up pay and offer some semblance of benefits. But the economy, here on the Shore and across the country, needs to be creating better jobs with some sense of a future.
Otherwise, vacancies will persist and workers will stay on the sidelines.