Carroll's unemployment rate drops 1 percent, despite fewer people working

May 01, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson and Amy L. Miller | Traci A. Johnson and Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writers

Carroll County's unemployment rate dropped 1 percent in March, even though slightly fewer county residents were working in March than in February.

The decrease is due, in part, to a marked decline in the number of county residents who left the work force, state Department of Economic and Employment Development officials said Friday.

"Like the rest of the state, Carroll saw a decline in unemployment. We have no real specifics on the regions but do realize that across the state, employment gains took place," said DEED spokesman Marco Merrick.

"What contributed is that a substantial number of people exited the labor force" by quitting their jobs, retiring or not looking for further employment, he said.

Unemployment in Carroll dropped from 6.8 percent in February to 5.8 percent in March, state figures showed.

The civilian labor force -- employed people plus those actively looking for work -- lost more than 800 people, dropping from 68,354 people in February to 67,549 in March.

"That is unusual in many ways," Mr. Merrick said. "We don't normally see such a substantial change that early in the year. People usually leave in May, June and July. We're not really sure why."

The number of people receiving unemployment insurance benefits in Carroll dropped from 4,682 in February to 3,904 in March.

Employment dropped slightly, from 63,672 people working in February to 63,645 people in March.

Carroll County's Career Center served 667 people in March -- a record high for the office, said Diane Massey, administrator for the county Job Training Partnership Administration office.

"We know we would have hit higher, but there were some [bad] weather days and the center was closed one day" for a staff meeting, Ms. Massey said at the county Economic Development Commission meeting Wednesday.

Ms. Massey said 46 people were placed in jobs in March, but she said she couldn't give commission members a percentage of people who were placed because many were still in training.

"It's an ongoing type of thing," she said. "We try to keep it [placement] up around 82 to 86 percent, which means we don't let go of people. We follow them until we place them or they place themselves."

Throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area, hiring increased in service and construction jobs, Mr. Merrick said. In the region -- which includes Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties -- unemployment dropped from 7.4 percent in February to 6.7 percent in March.

Employment in the same area dropped slightly from 1,115,116 people working in February to 1,114,647 people in March.

Statewide, employment figures rose slightly, from 2,494,408 people working in February to 2,495,478 people in March.

Maryland's unemployment rate dropped from 6.5 percent in February to 5.8 percent in March.

Carroll's current unemployment rate is much lower than it was a year ago -- 5.8 percent for March 1994, compared with 7.1 percent a year ago.

This trend reflects improvement in the state's economy, Mr. Merrick said.

"It's safe to say if we continue to see the pattern dip like that, the state is continuing the recovery from the recession," said the DEED spokesman. "There are a lot of favorable signs."

Mr. Merrick said: "If in fact employment growth continues for April, we may still see some attrition from the labor force, but we may not see as much. Hiring is turning up again."

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