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Jobless rate at 4.8 percent

March 02, 2001

Jobless rate at 4.8 percent



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Washington County saw its highest unemployment rate in almost two years in January. A local labor official attributed the rate to normal temporary and seasonal layoffs that mark the end of the holiday season.

The county's unemployment rate rose from 2.9 percent in December to 4.8 percent in January, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The county unemployment rate hasn't been so high since February 1999, when it was 5.3 percent, said Shanon Wolf, job service director in the Hagerstown office of the Maryland Job Service. The Job Service is a division of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

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The unemployment rate in January 2000 was 3.8 percent, according to the state figures.

Wolf said the unemployment rate typically increases 1 to 2 percentage points in January.

One reason is that retailers are cutting back staff after the Christmas shopping season, she said.

Also, January is the month that some companies close for a few weeks to do inventory and work on equipment, which causes some temporary layoffs, Wolf said.

"This is nothing out of the ordinary," Wolf said.

The number of unemployed in Washington County rose 1,357, from 1,983 in December to 3,340 in January.

Wolf said in the past three years unemployment rates have slightly increased from January to February, before turning down in March when warmer weather brings more construction and landscaping work.

Unemployment rates in neighboring Frederick County, Md., the state and country, also rose in January.

Frederick County's unemployment rate increased from 1.7 percent in December to 2.8 percent in January, according to the state figures.

Statewide, the unemployment rate rose from 3.3 percent in December to 4 percent in January.

The U.S. unemployment rate increased from 3.7 percent in December to 4.7 percent in January.

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