Maryland joblessness unchanged at 4.2%

July unemployment in state remains below the nationwide rate

September 07, 2002|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Maryland's unemployment rate held stable in July compared with July last year, as more people, including seasonal workers, found jobs in construction, services and the hotel and amusement industries, according to data released yesterday.

The state's jobless rate was 4.2 percent in July, the same as it was a year earlier, according to figures released by the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations. Maryland's unemployment rate in June was 4.4 percent.

The unemployment rate is "still well below the national average," said Charles W. McMillion, chief economist at MBG Information Services in Washington. "It shows that while the labor market is weak, unemployment continues to be very low."

Maryland's labor force, which generally peaks in July, grew by 27,876 workers in the month, putting the labor force at 2.96 million, according to the state. Total employment reached a record 2.84 million.

A survey of payrolls by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Maryland's labor force grew by 9,100 in July. The survey uses seasonally adjusted figures to eliminate fluctuations such as temporary summer workers.

Total jobs available in Maryland were 1.3 percent lower in July than a year earlier, with a 5 percent decline in construction jobs, a 3.9 percent drop in manufacturing and a 3.3 percent reduction in utilities, according to the survey.

"In terms of job figures, you lost 23,500 jobs in July, the figures show," McMillion said.

Maryland's economy, like that of the nation, has struggled, with few companies hiring. Many economists think the country emerged from recession early this year and that Maryland followed soon thereafter.

In Baltimore and a number of Maryland counties that traditionally have high unemployment, however, joblessness declined in July, according to the state.

In Baltimore, which had the highest unemployment in the state, the rate fell to 7.8 percent in July from 8.3 percent a year earlier. Dorchester County followed with an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent, down from 8.4 percent. Garrett County in Western Maryland had an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, down from 6.7.

The counties with the lowest unemployment rates included Talbot County, 2.5 percent; Montgomery County, 2.7 percent; Frederick County, 2.9 percent; and Charles County, 3 percent.

Howard and Anne Arundel counties had unemployment rates of 3 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Both had slightly higher rates than a year earlier.

Melissa Moore, regional director for staffing at Spherion Corp., said that in the past six to eight weeks there has been a pickup in demand for the recruiting and job placement company's services in the Baltimore area.

"We can tell that companies are feeling better by the number of searches we assume" to find permanent employees, she said.

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