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Jobless rate rises slightly

April 04, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Washington County's unemployment rate continued to climb back up slightly in February, according to estimates from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The county's jobless rate rose to 5.8 percent, slightly higher than the national unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, according to the state department.

The county's jobless rate in January was revised slightly upward to 5.7 percent from initial estimates of 5.6 percent.

"It's fairly typical for the February rate to be just a tad higher than the rate in January," said Shanon Wolf, manager of the department's local office.

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Usually there isn't much construction work contracted for February because of winter weather conditions, Wolf said. Even though this past winter wasn't as harsh as last year's winter, there were still cold temperatures.

Frederick County's jobless rate also rose, from 4.2 percent in January to an estimated 4.4 percent in February.

Despite rising unemployment locally, the state maintained its jobless rate of 4.9 percent from January to February, according to the state department.

"Although the state's unemployment rate remained the same in February, it is more than half a percentage point lower than a year ago," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening in a prepared statement.

"Also encouraging is that for several months, employment numbers have continuously reached record high totals, and our unemployment rate consistently remained lower than the national rate," Glendening said.

In February, Maryland reached another record high for employment, an estimated 2,587,791 workers. That's 449 more workers than in January.

The number of unemployed people also increased from 132,538 people in January to an estimated 134,489 people in February.

The mild winter helped prevent seasonal layoffs in the construction industry, helping to maintain the state's jobless rate, officials said.

Recall activity helped boost employment in educational services, manufacturing, construction, and state and local government, officials said.

Hiring also occurred in trucking, business services, personal services and at restaurants and engineering and management firms, according to the state department.

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