It may sound like a lone voice in a wilderness of bad economic news, but state development officials announced yesterday that Maryland's jobless rate fell slightly in August.
The main reason for the decline, to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent in July, was the withdrawal from the job market of nearly 30,600 students and other summer workers, according to the state Department of Economic and Employment Development.
A year earlier, the state's jobless rate was 3.6 percent. Compared with August 1989, unemployment was higher in every county in Maryland this year.
The national unemployment rate increased in August to 5.percent from 5.5 percent the month before. And yesterday the Labor Department reported that U.S. civilian unemployment rose again in September, to 5.7 percent, the highest level in 2 1/2 years.
In the Baltimore area, the jobless rate dropped to 4.8 percent iAugust from 4.9 percent, although unemployment in the city itself failed to budge from July's 7.4 percent.
In the metropolitan region, Harford County enjoyed the greatest drop in unemployment, to 4.4 percent from 5.3 percent in July.
Statewide, total unemployment fell by 3,400 in August, according to the Department of Economic and Employment Development.
"Increased hiring in the food-processing industries and recall activity in apparels and rubber products bolstered performance in the manufacturing sector," the department said
in a statement.
"In construction, employment gains among special trade contractors counteracted losses in general construction."
But seasonal layoffs and reduced business activity led to hiring cutbacks in retail, services and government, the department said. Manufacturing layoffs caused higher unemployment in Frederick, Washington and Talbot counties, it noted.