Jobless rate's up, but still very low

May's 3.6% rate is the lowest for month since 1989

Md. employment

July 03, 1999|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

The percentage of Marylanders without jobs inched higher in May, but, thanks to the economic boom, the unemployment rate was still the lowest for the month in 10 years, state officials announced yesterday.

About 3.6 percent of the state's work force was unemployed in May, up from 3.5 percent in April, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. But the unemployment rate is still a full percentage point lower than last year, and the lowest for May since 1989.

State officials mainly attribute the slight increase to the seasonal influx of summer workers, which swelled the state's labor force in May by 17,400 people, to nearly 2.8 million.

Employers hired more workers during the month, but the surge in job seekers offset employment growth and added about 4,300 people to the state's unemployment rolls.

"It's a seasonal trend, because high school students are getting out of school and entering the labor force," said Anirban Basu, an economist at Towson University. "What is worthy of note is that Maryland's unemployment rate is below the nation's, and that employment growth remains strong."

The May unemployment rate for the country was 4.2 percent.

Among the state's 24 subdivisions, Baltimore posted the largest increase in the unemployment rate, from 6.9 percent to 7.6 percent. The percentage of unemployed workers in the city is still well below last year, when 9 percent were without jobs.

Basu said changes in the city's employment levels also are seasonal, and likely to improve. "The city stands to add jobs over the next year in construction, apartment management and retail," he said.

Dorchester County had the highest unemployment rate, 8.5 percent, and Montgomery County had the lowest, 1.7 percent. In the Baltimore region, the city had the highest rate, while Howard County had the lowest, 1.8 percent.

Anne Arundel County had 2.8 percent; Baltimore County, 3.9 percent; Carroll County, 2.4 percent; Harford County, 3.0 percent.

Pub Date: 7/03/99

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