Maryland's employment failed to grow for the fourth consecutive month in October, marking the longest slowdown in job creation since 1982 and providing the first inklings of a possible state-wide recession, according to a top state economist.
However, the state's economic jitters are not as severe as those of the nation as a whole and do not mean a recession is inevitable, said Pradeep Ganguly, assistant director of research for the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.
"I can't say from the data we have now that Maryland's economy is in a recession. But it is not growing and that is a concern," Ganguly said.
Maryland's unemployment rate remained unchanged in October
at 4.5 percent for the fourth consecutive month, according to statistics released today. Unemployment in Maryland was 3.3 percent in October 1989.
National unemployment was 5.4 percent in October.
"The sky's not falling. It is not a very happy sign; we would like employment to be growing," Ganguly said. So far, there has been no net loss of jobs, which would be a far more worrisome sign, he said.
Forecasts show that the state's concentration of employment in relatively strong growth industries such as health care and its small dependence on weak ones, such as manufacturing, will spare it the ravages of a severe downturn, Ganguly said. Maryland's economic diversity should also help it, he said.
In the Baltimore metropolitan area, unemployment was 4.9 percent in October, unchanged from September but up from 3.5 percent the year before. The city's rate was 7.5 percent, unchanged from September, while Baltimore County's rate of 4.2 percent was down slightly from 4.3 percent in the previous month.
Harford and Howard counties showed slight increases, to 4.2 percent and 3.1 percent respectively, while Anne Arundel and Carroll counties were unchanged at 3.4 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.