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Jobless rate down

December 05, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Nearly 800 more Washington County residents had jobs in October than did the previous month, shaving the jobless rate by two-tenths of a percentage point, according to preliminary numbers released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

At 3.4 percent, the county's rate is at its lowest level in at least three years, according to Shanon S. Wolf, manager of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's Hagerstown office.

Statewide, the jobless rate was at its lowest level since 1990 at 4 percent, with an October record of more than 2.68 million Maryland residents employed, according to labor department officials.

Washington County's drop can be attributed to workers continuing to return to jobs in school systems, strong retail hiring and continued outdoor employment thanks to fair weather, Wolf said.

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Washington County's jobless rate was 3.4 percent in October, down from 3.6 percent in September and nearly a percentage point below October 1997, when it was 4.3 percent, according to labor department statistics.

Frederick County's rate dropped half a percentage point, from 2.8 percent in September to 2.3 percent in October, according to the statistics.

The rate was more than a percentage point below October 1997, when it was 3.4 percent, according to the statistics.

Washington County's October rate was the lowest in at least three years, and, if not the lowest monthly rate since 1990, one of the lowest rates, Wolf said.

The large drop from last year reflects both a growth in jobs and the fact that most people coming into the work force were getting jobs, she said.

While the county's civilian labor force grew by 3,075 workers from October 1997 to October 1998, the number of employed workers grew by 3,479 workers in the same period, Wolf said.

There's been an obvious growth in retail, mainly due to hiring at Prime Outlets at Hagerstown, and continued growth in most other industries, she said.

Regionally, hiring in finance, real estate and business services helped ease unemployment in Western Maryland to an all-time low of 5.1 percent in October, according to labor department officials.

Nationally, the jobless rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point, from 4.4. percent in September to 4.2 percent in October.

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