Maryland's unemployment rate climbed to 7.3 percent in January, the highest rate in nine years, according to figures released today by the state Department of Economic and Employment Development.
Analysts attributed the increase to seasonal layoffs and the recession.
During January, the number of employed workers in Maryland declined by 25,974 to 2.34 million. The number of people without jobs increased 13,873, to 184,727.
Meanwhile, initial claims for unemployment insurance increased from 38,025 in December to 45,766 in January -- a figure that could signal further increases.
Unemployment ranged from a low of 3.6 percent in Montgomery County to a high of 20.7 percent in Worcester County.
In the Baltimore area, the jobless rate rose to 8.3 percent in January, up from December's 7.3 percent. Unemployment rose in every county in the Baltimore area, but was highest in the city at 10.5 percent
Western Maryland continued to post the highest regional unemployment figures, with the jobless rate increasing to 11.9 percent in January, up from 10.7 percent in December.
In the Washington suburbs, unemployment held steady at 5 percent. On the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland, the rate rose to 11.2 percent from 9.4 percent.
The state's unemployment rate in January 1991 was 6.1 percent.
Maryland's economic secretary, Mark L. Wasserman, sought a positive spin, saying other statistics show the economy has started to rebound from the recession.
"Although January's unemployment rate once again is up, more recent indicators are beginning to show signs of recovery, particularly in residential construction and retail sales," he said.
Analysts noted that the demand for goods and services has slowly started to rise, and in some industries employees have begun to work overtime.
Michael Conte, of the University of Baltimore's Center for Business and Economic Studies, said the jobless rate may not improve significantly until late summer because employment usually follows economic recovery.