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Jobless rate dips in December

February 02, 2001

Jobless rate dips in December



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


Washington County's unemployment rate dipped slightly in December, despite fewer people being employed.

The county's jobless rate fell from 2.9 percent in November to 2.8 percent in December, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The jobless rate "stayed stable," said Shanon Wolf, job service director for the Labor Department's Hagerstown office.

The number of people unemployed dropped from 1,996 in November to 1,946 in December.

However, the number of people who left the ranks of the employed had an even bigger fall, from 67,968 workers in November to 67,138 in December.

The labor force typically shrinks in December as temporary holiday season workers start to exit the job market and some companies shut down for vacations or layoff workers briefly while surveying inventory, Wolf said.

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"Normally we have a fair amount of small short-term layoffs during that period," Wolf said.

Since these people left the labor force as well as their jobs, the unemployment rate wasn't drastically affected.

Workers laid off during inventory or not working because of vacation shut downs aren't typically seeking employment during those hiatuses, Wolf said. To be considered unemployed, a person must be jobless and seeking employment.

Frederick County's jobless rate fell as well, from 1.9 percent in November to 1.7 percent in December, according to the state labor department.

Statewide, the unemployment rate decreased from 3.5 percent in November to 3.3 percent in December, continuing to be lower than the nation's jobless rate. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in December.

"Maryland's positive employment figures are a sure sign that the State is maintaining its strong economic success," Gov. Parris N. Glendening said in a prepared statement.

"It is absolutely critical that we build on our business and job development efforts to ensure that Maryland families keep good paying jobs, businesses continue to flourish, and this prosperity lasts," Glendening said.

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