Jobless rate holds at 3.5% in Maryland

Record number of workers found jobs in Oct., Nov.

A resilient economy

State resists jolts, while outperforming nation as a whole

January 06, 2001|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

Maryland's unemployment rate held steady at 3.5 percent from October to November as the still-strong state economy was able to absorb a record number of workers, says a state report released yesterday.

"I think that this tells us that the Maryland economy is diversified enough [to shrug off] declining consumer confidence" and the declines in the stock market, said Jeff Petry, an economist who watches Maryland for Economy.com in West Chester, Pa. "It's been able to resist some of these shocks. It's resilient."

With an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, the state continued to do better than the United States as a whole, since unemployment nationally edged up to 3.8 percent in November from 3.6 percent in October. Even so, the November 2000 unemployment rate for Maryland represented an increase from the 3.2 percent rate of November 1999.

During November 2000, the looming holidays created job opportunities statewide, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said in the report. November hiring was concentrated in retailing, and was done mainly by general merchandise stores, apparel shops, and in card, book and jewelry stores, the state said.

Gains were also seen in business services - a Maryland strength - as well as in hospitals, social services and education-related employment.

In November, 2.86 million people were employed in Maryland's civilian labor force - a state record for that month that exceeded the previous year's all-time high by 38,650 workers.

The unemployment rate for the Baltimore metropolitan area held steady at 4.1 percent from October to November.

In Baltimore City, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in both October and November.

The counties that, along with Baltimore City, make up the metropolitan area, remained healthy. Howard County, emerging as a key technology center, had the lowest unemployment rate in the area (1.8 percent), followed by the counties of Carroll (2 percent), Queen Anne's (2.4 percent), Anne Arundel (2.5 percent), Harford (3.1 percent) and Baltimore (4.2 percent).

Petry, the Economy.com economist, said the unemployment reports for December and January - not yet available - could help show whether the economic slowdown that's taking hold nationwide is being felt in Maryland.

For now, however, "Maryland is sitting well," Petry said.

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