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Jobless rate drops .3%

November 04, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County's unemployment rate improved from 3.9 percent in August to 3.6 percent in September, according to preliminary estimates released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The county's unemployment rate is the same as it was in September 2001.

Recalls in Western Maryland removed 470 people from the unemployment line in September, according to a Labor Department news release. The statement does not specify whether those workers were recalled in Washington, Allegany or Garrett counties.

The release states September recalls in Maryland were in education and transportation services. The construction field also was hiring.

Some Washington County manufacturers are doing well and adding jobs, but "I don't know where the 400 is coming from," said Tim Troxell, acting executive director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

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Because the Labor Department conducts its employment surveys during the week of the 12th, several teachers returning to work could have been missed in the August count and showed up in the September count, Troxell said.

It's not just teachers, said Marco Merrick, Labor Department spokesman.

The increase could include other education-related jobs such as food service and maintenance workers, Merrick said. It also could include hirings at businesses affected by the return of Hagerstown Community College students, he said.

"We're happy to see that many of our residents are being employed," Troxell said.

"I know the companies that are out there that are hiring. They're saying that the labor market is getting tight again. It's getting tougher to find people," Troxell said.

The recalls helped counter the impact of seasonal cutbacks in retail and service businesses, the state news release says.

Washington County's civilian labor force increased 250 people from 70,038 people in August to 70,288 people in September, according to the Labor Department. The number of employed people increased by 428 workers to 67,746 workers in September.

The jobless rolls decreased from 2,720 unemployed people to 2,542 people, according to the Labor Department.

Frederick County's unemployment rate also improved, dropping from 2.9 percent in August to 2.7 percent in September, according to preliminary estimates.

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