State's jobless rate fell to 2.9% in April, second-lowest ever

High-tech industry continues to attract people seeking work

Maryland economy

June 02, 2000|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Maryland's unemployment rate fell to 2.9 percent in April, the second-lowest rate on record and the ninth consecutive all-time monthly low, the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said yesterday.

The state's rate continued to beat the national average, which was 4.1 percent for the month. The state's rate is down from 3.0 percent in March and 3.4 percent in April 1999.

The state's lowest unemployment rate since the department began tracking it in 1978 came in December 1999, when it reached 2.8 percent.

"The state's economy is putting on a blockbuster performance," said Kelly Whitman, an economist who covers Maryland for RFA Dismal Sciences, a forecasting and consulting firm in West Chester, Pa. "This is a very tight labor market, and job opportunities are plentiful."

More than 2.7 million were employed in the state in April, up slightly from March. Several sectors reported job growth during the month, including retail, services, recreation, agriculture, education, restaurants and construction.

Whitman said the state's labor force, the number of people seeking employment, is growing at twice the national average. She said some of that growth is due to the expansion of high-tech firms in the Washington area, which are attracting new residents.

"This is a testament to the strength of the economy, that it is able to absorb an increase in workers without a corresponding increase in the unemployment rate," she said.

No jurisdiction in the state saw its jobless rate increase during the month.

In the Baltimore metropolitan area, unemployment was 3.3 percent in April, compared with 3.4 percent in March and 3.7 percent a year earlier.

Howard and Montgomery counties had the lowest rates in the state, 1.4 percent. Several other counties also beat the state rate: Frederick County came in at 1.7 percent, Calvert County at 1.8 percent, Charles County at 1.9 percent, Carroll County at 2.0 percent, Anne Arundel County at 2.1 percent and Harford County at 2.4 percent.

Baltimore County had an unemployment rate for the month of 3.2 percent.

Baltimore had the highest unemployment in the region with a rate of 6.1 percent, the same as in March but down from 6.8 percent in April 1999.

The state's highest unemployment rate was recorded in Worcester County, with 9.2 percent.

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