Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation announced that, beginning in 2010, Maryland employers will face up to a 300 percent increase in the unemployment taxes they pay on behalf of their Maryland workers.

The minimum rates for 2010 will be $187 per employee, up from $51 an employee in 2009. Although a majority of employers pay the minimum rate, the individual employer rates vary depending upon the number of unemployment claims filed against the business over the prior three years. The highest rate a Maryland business owner could pay per employee in 2010 would be $1,147.50. Employers pay taxes on the first $8,500 of each employee's salary.

Although much of the need for this unprecedented increase in unemployment taxes is due to the downturn in the economy, during the last legislative session Maryland significantly increased the available unemployment benefits to Maryland top earners, as well as part-time employees. For example, the top unemployment benefit went from $380 a week to $410 a week beginning October 2009 and $430 a week beginning October 2010.

In addition, the Maryland Legislature for the first time allowed part-time employees (defined as individuals who have restricted availability to work full-time and have averaged at least 20 hours per week) to also recover unemployment insurance benefits. These two moves will undoubtedly add to the strain placed on the unemployment insurance fund.