Unemployment in county rises to 7.5 percent Carroll keeps pace with state trend

April 04, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer GR. GRAPH

Carroll County's unemployment rate rose in February, in step with a statewide increase in joblessness.

The county's rate rose from 7.2 percent in January to 7.5 percent in February.

Maryland's unemployment rate grew from 6.4 percent in January to 6.7 percent in February. But the statewide rate is lower than a year ago; the February 1992 rate was 7.5 percent.

Carroll County showed an even larger drop of a full percentage point from a year ago, when the unemployment rate was 8.5 percent.

More Carroll Countians were working in February than in January.

But the number of new jobs did not keep pace with the growing number of people looking for work, economists said.

"The labor market is not able to absorb all of the new people who want to work," said Patrick Arnold, director of labor market analysis for the state Department of Economic and Employment Development.

In February, 63,461 Carroll residents were employed, up from 62,964 who were working in January.

But the civilian labor force also grew, from 67,866 in January to 68,616 in February, the figures showed.

Mr. Arnold said it is not unusual for unemployment rates to swell in the early stages of an economic recovery.

"Job seekers will often become over-exuberant about their chances of finding employment," he said, and the pool of people looking for work grows.

Theodora Stephen, manager of the department's office in Westminster, said December, January and February are traditionally bad months for employment in Maryland because bad weather prevents construction workers and others from getting outdoors to work.

Also, she said, "In general, a lot of companies are reporting to us that they are working people overtime" instead of hiring additional employees.

Mr. Arnold agreed. "In a recovery, the first thing that employers tend to

do is work their existing people longer," he said.

This might be especially true in the current climate, where employers are concerned over benefit costs and unsure of how policy changes regarding benefits such as family leave will affect them, Mr. Arnold said.

Marco K. Merrick, a public information officer at the state department, said the February employment figures presented "mixed signals," but they included some signs that Maryland is ++ experiencing a slow recovery.

He noted a statewide 24.5 percent drop in first-time claims for unemployment insurance since February 1992.

The number of Maryland housing starts is up 3.5 percent from last year and new car registrations for February are up 20.6 percent from one year ago.

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