Unemployment dropped 1.6 percent in Carroll Co. in April, state reports

June 05, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

More than 1,000 people left Carroll County's labor force in April and employment grew by 50 jobs, contributing to an unemployment rate drop of 1.6 percent, state officials said Friday.

The decrease, which follows an unemployment drop from February to March, was the largest decline in the seven counties of the Baltimore metropolitan area, which includes Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties, and Baltimore City.

Marco Merrick, spokesman for the state Department of Economic and Employment Development, said Friday that Carroll County's rate dropped from 5.8 percent in March to 4.2 percent in April.

The next largest drop in the Baltimore metropolitan area, from 7.2 percent in March to 5.7 percent in April, was in Harford County. Howard County had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.5 percent in April. In February, the county's unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

"You [Carroll County] lost just about 1,000 people in the labor force, as well as had growth in employment," said Mr. Merrick. He noted that the civilian labor force dropped from 67,487 in March to 66,432 in April.

Employment grew from 63,562 people to 63,612 in the same period. The civilian labor force figure represents the number of people who are employed plus the number who are actively looking for work.

"There are a number of factors [why people leave the labor force]," Mr. Merrick said, including starting their own businesses.

Carroll officials agreed that self-employment may have contributed to the drop in the county's labor force.

"That's a classic scenario of how people react many times to their own unemployment," said Eileen Shields, marketing manager for the county economic development office. "It's one of the first alternatives that people who are newly unemployed look to."

In many cases, laid-off people take their severance pay and start their dream business, she said.

"Mike Fish [of the state Small Business Development Association] saw a lot more of that a year ago," Ms. Shields said. "But sometimes it takes up to a year before a business opens."

Mr. Fish works twice a week in Carroll County helping beginning entrepreneurs write business plans and secure loans for their ventures.

Pamela Lindsay, job development coordinator for the county Job Training Partnership Administration office, said there has been a surge in requests from local businesses for employees.

"In April, all of a sudden, businesses had a surge in orders and needed quick manpower increases to deal with it," she said.

But Ms. Lindsay said she's concerned that the 4.2 percent figure may not accurately represent how many people are unemployed in Carroll County. Most of the job requests have been for physically intensive, low-paying labor in such areas as manufacturing and construction.

And, some people have taken jobs below their accustomed experience and salary levels simply to bring money into their households, she said.

The jobs of many middle management and professional people have been eliminated, Ms. Lindsay said, "and I don't see their jobs coming back. We're seeing slow, steady growth. But that doesn't mean we're totally out of the woods."

Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped from 5.8 percent in March to 5.2 percent in April.

Mr. Merrick said Maryland saw job gains in every type of industry except transportation in April.

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