County employment up, but so is unemployment

February 06, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll County ended the year with a slight rise in unemployment, after four months of steadily declining figures, state Department of Economic and Employment Development officials said Friday.

However, employment continued to grow during the same period, leading state analysts to believe the economy is steadily improving, said DEED spokesman Marco Merrick.

County unemployment rose from 3.7 percent in November to 3.9 percent in December, state figures showed.

Employment rose from 65,320 people working in November to 65,576 people in December.

The civilian labor force -- employed people plus those actively looking for work -- also rose from 67,845 people in November to 68,272 people in December. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance benefits rose from 2,525 in November to 2,696 in December.

"A heavy influx of job seekers expanded the work force," Mr. Merrick said. "Employment levels are much higher. But we still did not have the jobs to absorb all those numbers."

The DEED spokesman also noted that unemployment figures were much lower than those recorded a year ago. Carroll County's unemployment was 5.7 percent in December 1992, state officials said.

Carroll County Office of Economic Development Administrator William E. Jenne characterized the rise as a "minor fluctuation in the marketplace."

"I don't think the numbers reveal any trends other than job opportunities appear to be available for Carroll countians," he said.

But often, those jobs pay lower salaries than the jobs from which county residents were laid off, Mr. Jenne said. For example, many residents who recently applied for a new position in the economic development office had been working in jobs that paid twice as much as the county salary.

"I still feel there is an under-employment situation masked by the calculation of the unemployment rate," he said.

Throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area, hiring increased in trucking, retail and local government jobs, Mr. Merrick said. In the region -- which includes Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties -- unemployment rose from 6.2 to 6.3 percent.

Employment in the same area rose from 1,161,408 people working in November to 1,165,959 people in December.

"The hiring that we see during the holiday period is obviously in retail," Mr. Merrick said. "There is also an increase in amusements in metropolitan areas, like restaurants that have an influx of work for that season."

Statewide, employment figures -- rising from 2,497,074 people in November to 2,507,007 people in December -- were the highest on record, he said. Employment figures have steadily increased for the past four months, Mr. Merrick said.

Maryland's unemployment rate rose from 5.5 percent in November to 5.6 percent in December.

Yet, state officials said they feel the economy is improving, based on an 11 percent increase in housing starts during 1993 and a 17 percent increase in automobile registrations.

"These indicators are favorable signs that there aren't drastic changes in the economy, but it is turning around gradually," Mr. Merrick said. "According to predictions made in mid-1993, we are following the course of the predictions of what they said would happen for Maryland."

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