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Jobless rate inches higher

February 06, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

Jobless rate inches higher

The jobless rate in Washington County rose slightly in December to 4.4 percent, according to the state officials.

The revised unemployment rate for November was 4.3 percent.

Marco Merrick of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation attributed the slight increase in county unemployment to temporary shutdowns and seasonal reductions in manufacturing.

In Western Maryland as a whole, the jobless rate in December rose from 6.3 to 6.9 percent for basically the same reasons, Merrick said.

The other two counties grouped in the Western Maryland region posted dramatically higher jobless rates for December than did Washington County.

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The Allegany County unemployment rate went up from 8.1 to 8.7 percent, while the Garrett County rate rose from 11.9 to 14.2 percent, state figures show.

Maryland's overall jobless rate dropped slightly in December to 4.5 percent. Fifteen counties, including Washington County, reported rates at or below the statewide average for the month.

Montgomery County's 2.3 percent jobless rate for December was the lowest in the state, followed by Howard County's 2.5 percent rate and Frederick County's 3.0 percent rate.

Merrick said the drop in the overall state rate was the third in a row. He said it was somewhat surprising in that December is a month when the rate is likely to go up slightly due to seasonal declines in the agricultural, hotel and food service industries, in construction and in education-related services.

"We were lucky in that we had mild weather, and that helped the construction industry which did some hiring," he said. "There were also seasonal employment gains in the retail sector with the hiring of temporary workers for the holidays."

Hiring was also reported in December in food stores, business services and health services, Merrick said.

Nationally the unemployment rate inched up from 4.3 percent in November to 4.4 percent in December, officials said.

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