Carroll County jobless rate rose in January Winter holidays cited as factor

March 15, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Carroll County's unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in January, a result of layoffs and plant closings that always happen after the winter holidays, Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development officials said Friday.

The number of Carroll County people receiving unemployment insurance rose from 3,898 in December to 4,912 in January.

However, DEED officials said they are reluctant to compare that number to December's 6.0 percent unemployment rate because year-end population adjustments are not complete.

"Carroll County did experience an increase, but it may not be as sharp as what you see," said DEED public information officer Marco Merrick. "I doubt that it is that sharp."

The annual adjustments take into account the number of people who have moved in or out of Carroll County and the number of children born last year, he said.

"The numbers aren't comparable," Mr. Merrick said. "It's very difficult to compare January to December."

Normally, those adjustments are made using statistical formulas that estimate population counts based on data such as the number of unemployment insurance claims and statewide population surveys, said Patrick Arnold, DEED's director of labor market analysis.

This year, however, the state had planned to adjust the figures using the 1990 census, he said.

Maryland's adjustments have been delayed because the federal government has not released the census figures, which also are used to determine issues such as where programs to help the unemployed are based.

About 15 cities have sued to make the Census Bureau adjust its figures because they believe about 5.3 million people were not counted in the last census. Officials are still debating whether to use statistical estimates in those areas, he said.

"They are torn between following the best statistical procedures and minimizing the public outcry," Mr. Arnold said. "Until those decisions are made, we can't proceed with what would be normal [population] adjustments."

Despite the apparent 1.6 percentage point rise in unemployment, DEED officials said they are encouraged. Mr. Arnold said several companies recalled laid-off workers in January, which kept the unemployment percentage lower than it might have been.

Also, the number could have been higher if fewer people had dropped out of the labor force, Mr. Merrick said. Carroll County's civilian labor force dropped from 64,575 people in December to 64,348 in January.

The civilian labor force is the number of employed people, plus the number of people receiving unemployment benefits or actively looking for work.

"Many people came out of retirement or educational facilities to work [during the holiday season]," Mr. Merrick said. "During January, they left the labor force again. We didn't see a rise as sharp as it could have been."

The increase is not as high as for January layoff periods for the past few years, he said. Carroll County's unemployment rate for January 1992 was 8.5 percent. "We are encouraged by the fact that it did not increase as sharply as has been the trend for the last few years in the recession period," he said.

Statewide, the unemployment figure rose from 6.3 percent in December to 6.4 percent in January. Unemployment for January 1992 was 7.3 percent.

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