The unemployment rate in Carroll County dropped sharply from 6 percent in April to 5.3 percent in May, according to figures released Friday by the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.
"That's such a large drop . . . there has to be some real good news in that," said Patrick Arnold, director of labor market analysis for the department.
Part of Carroll's drop in unemployment was attributed to a decrease in the county's civilian labor force, which fell from 67,500 people in April to 66,018 in May.
The civilian labor force is the number of Carroll residents who are working, added to the number of people actively seeking employment. The figure had dropped from 68,727 in March.
Figures for the Baltimore metropolitan area, which includes Carroll County, show the largest job gains were in seasonal restaurant- and amusement-related work, said Marco K. Merrick, DEED public information officer.
Statewide, the unemployment rate fell from 6.2 percent in April to 6 percent in May.
Based on that drop, plus decreases in new and continuing unemployment claims, along with increases in payroll employment and manufacturing hours, DEED concluded that the Maryland economy is continuing a slow recovery.
The average manufacturing work week in Maryland grew from 40.7 hours in April to 41.2 hours in May. An increase in the average work week "generally is a precursor to future hiring," a DEED news release said.
The state civilian labor force decreased from 2,585,981 people in April to 2,545,343 in May.
The shrinkage in the labor force may have been due, in part, to the fact that schools did not let out until after the May employment survey was done, Mr. Arnold said.
"There were a lot less young people counted in the labor force this year," he said.
Another contributing factor, he said, may have been discouragement among some young people, who may have given up looking for summer work.
Mr. Merrick said a number of people may have left the work force for seasonal reasons, such as to travel or to care for children on vacation from school.