Unemployment in the county rose by 1.2 percent from October to November, the first change in the rate since August.
"It could bethe beginning of the recession up here," said Theodora Stephen, manager of the state Department of Economic and Employment Development inCarroll.
The county's jobless rate, at 4.5 percent, still is below the state number, figures released Friday show.
Maryland's unemployment rate for November, the latest month for which numbers are available, was 5.3 percent, up from 4.5 percent in October, state numbers show.
The U.S. unemployment rate in November was 5.8 percent.
Stephen said the 1.2 percent increase in Carroll is significant.
"That's a lot for us. The fortunate thing is that most of the large employers haven't been hit," she said.
She predicted the December jobless rate for the county also would showan increase.
The unemployment rate for Carroll in November 1989 was 1.9 percent, DEED numbers show.
The county rate hadremained steady at 3.3 percent in August, September and October.
Most of the people now unemployed in Carroll had been working in construction-related jobs, Stephen said.
The county DEED office hasn't seen an increase in the number of people working in retail or service jobs who are applying for unemployment pay, she said.
"Our biggest employers have not been affected at all, and that's great," Stephen said.
Random House Inc., the county's largest private employer, is not laying off any workers, but isn't hiring, said John F. Gambatese, senior vice president.
"We're taking care of our own," he said. "Things are fine at Random House."
The book publisher employs about 1,200 people at its warehouseand distribution center in Westminster.
Stephen said some county businesses shut down during the holidays, but that none plan layoffs, as far as she knows.
About two weeks ago, her office conducted a telephone survey of about 200 companies and found about 50 new jobs for clients, she said.
The DEED office, at the Air Business Center in Westminster, has been especially busy since Dec.21, Stephen said.
"Our office has been packed. They're hereat 7 o'clock in the morning waiting in line," she said.
Thewaiting area in the office can hold about 120 people, she said. The office opens at 8 a.m.
The maximum weekly unemployment checkis $215, she said.
The civilian labor force in the county dropped by about 400 people in November to 62,709, state figures show.Employment stood at 59,873; 2,836 people were unemployed, compared with 2,059 people in October.