Numbers released by the state Friday show only one more person was unemployed in the county in February than in January.
Carroll's jobless rate held steady in February at 8.5 percent, but still was higher than state and national levels, the Department of Economic and Employment Development reported.
On the positive side, the county was the only jurisdiction in themetropolitan Baltimore area where unemployment did not increase, DEED said.
Carroll's jobless rate, however, is the highest since January 1984, when unemployment was 8.9 percent, said Theodora Stephen, manager of the DEED office in Westminster.
That year, the unemployment rate stayed above 8 percent in January and February, but dropped to 6.2 percent in March, she said.
By December, the rate was down to 3.7 percent.
A year ago in February, the county's unemployment rate was 7.3 percent.
DEED reported that in February, the latest month for which numbers are available, 5,429 people were unemployed inCarroll.
The county's civilian labor force -- which includes people with jobs and those actively seeking work -- decreased by 147 people, from 64,027 in January to 63,880 in February, DEED said.
The number of people employed in Carroll decreased from 58,597 in January to 58,451 in February.
This February, Maryland's jobless rate was 7.5 percent, up from 7.3 percent in January, meaning 5,528 more people were unemployed in the state than in January, DEED reported.
State officials attributed the increase to seasonal layoffs and an increase in the size of the civilian labor force.
In Maryland, the civilian labor force increased by 2,438 people, from 2,528,857 in Januaryto 2,531,340 in February, state officials said. A year ago in February, Maryland's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent.
State officials are optimistic that the local economic situation will improve.
"Other economic indicators show that Maryland's economy is beginning to improve," said DEED Secretary Mark L. Wasserman.
"Sales-tax revenue is up, consumer confidence is rising and housing starts remain at about last year's levels."
The U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that the nation's unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in March, unchanged from February, but the worst in nearly seven years. (U.S. numbers are one month ahead of state numbers.)
The number of people unemployed in March was 9.2 million,
or 2.5 million more than when the economic downturn began in July 1990.
Analysts said it is not unusual for employment increases to lag a bit behind an economic rebound.
Businesses often delay hiring workers in the early stages of a recovery, relying instead on overtime until they are confident the economic turnaround can be sustained.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.