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County jobless rate continues to fall

July 05, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Washington County's unemployment rate for May was the lowest on record since 1990, according to the spokesman for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The unemployment rate in the county fell for the third straight month to 4 percent in May compared with 4.1 percent in April, according to the department.

The state's monthly jobless rate records only go back as far as 1990, said spokesman Marco Merrick.

Shanon Wolf, manager of the labor department's local office, said gradual growth in new industry and expansion of existing companies have helped lower the jobless rate.

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The county's low unemployment rate also matches a broader trend across the nation, Wolf said.

The nation's jobless rate dipped from 4.8 percent in April to 4.7 percent in May.

Wolf said she's not concerned about the low number of available workers in the local market yet. The number of unemployed people in the county fell from 2,793 people in April to an estimated 2,755 people in May.

"It's a good time for a job seeker to be looking for work," Wolf said.

It's more of a job applicants' market than an employers' market, she said.

The jobless rate for the Western Maryland region of Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties also fell from 6.4 percent in April to 6.2 percent in May, although Garrett County's jobless rate rose slightly.

Frederick County's unemployment rate also crept up from 3.3 percent in April to an estimated 3.4 percent in May.

The number of Marylanders with jobs increased in May for the fourth consecutive month, but the jobless rate rose slightly as high school and college students searched for summer jobs, state officials said.

The state's unemployment rate rose from 4.4 percent in April to an estimated 4.5 percent in May.

State labor department Secretary Eugene A. Conti Jr. said in a prepared statement that the slight increase in the unemployment rate was not cause for alarm.

"Continued growth in the state's employment level is good news that reflects economic strength," Conti said.

The number of Marylanders employed increased from 2,618,322 in April to an estimated 2,640,310 in May, according to the department.

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