Spring has had a positive effect on Maryland's work force, with statewide employment growing by 32,500 people and the jobless rate shooting downward to 6.0 percent from February's 6.5 percent.
The improved March unemployment figures, released today by the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development, were attributed to normal seasonal activity that created jobs in agricultural, amusement, educational and business services and in retail trade, such as restaurants and other eating places.
The news surprised Charles W. McMillion, an analyst for MBG Inc., a Washington consulting firm. "Well, that's terrific! It's very, very surprising," said McMillion.
But McMillion cautioned that layoffs announced by Westinghouse and MNC Financial Inc. may hamper future employment.
Maryland jobless figures lag a month behind similar reporting by the U.S. Labor Department. The state's March unemployment rate is below the national figure of 7.1 percent for March. The U.S. figure of 6.6 percent for April was released by the Labor Department today.
In the Baltimore area, a decline of about 1,800 people from the jobless rolls helped reduce the estimated unemployment rate for the metropolitan region to 6.8 percent in March from 7 percent in February. However, manufacturing layoffs adversely affected labor force activity, specifically in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and in the city.
Statewide, the labor force increased by 21,643 workers between February and March.
After months of double-digit unemployment rates, Western Maryland's estimated rate dropped from 11.3 percent to 9.8 percent. The unemployment rates for all jurisdictions in that area dropped by more than a full percentage point.
An employment increase of more than 4,800 workers on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland pushed the average unemployment rate down from 10.3 percent to 8.2 percent in those areas.
Labor force declines in Cecil County contributed to the drop in that county's joblessness, from 13.7 percent to 8.8 percent, although auto industry layoffs continued to affect local residents.