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Jobless rates drop

May 06, 2002|BY JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County's unemployment rate improved in March to 5.7 percent, according to preliminary estimates released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The county's unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in February.

Construction and retail activity may have helped increase employment in the area, said Job Service Supervisor Bill Kelly, with the labor department's Hagerstown office.

"Retail started gearing up for the spring season," Kelly said.

Warmer temperatures in March also could have led to more construction activity, he said.

The economy could "just be breaking out of the winter doldrums," Kelly said.

Kelly said he was not aware of any major employee increases by a single company in March.

"I think everybody's just picking up a little bit," Kelly said.

The labor force held steady from February to March. There were 70,977 people in the labor force in March, only 21 fewer people than in February.

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There were 66,899 people employed in the county in March. That's 317 more people than were employed in February.

The unemployment rate is the result of estimates calculated during the week of March 12, so it reflects a snapshot of how employment was during a brief period in the month.

Frederick County's unemployment rate also decreased, from 3.8 percent in February to 3.5 percent in March, according to the labor department.

Maryland's jobless rate was 5.1 percent in March, compared with 5 percent in February.

Nationally, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.1 percent during that time period.

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