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County's unemployment rate increases

April 24, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County's unemployment rate increased to 5.6 percent in February, according to preliminary estimates released this week by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The number of unemployed job searchers in the county increased by 283 people to 4,023 in February, according to the labor department.

The increase primarily is attributed to seasonal layoffs, said Shanon Wolf, job service director of the Maryland labor department's Hagerstown office.

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Typically when seasonal jobs end, many of those workers leave the labor force, but many of them still appear to be counted in the labor force because they still are searching for jobs, Wolf said.

Wolf was not aware of any major layoffs in the county in February that would account for the increase in the number of unemployed residents searching for work. It is possible some of those residents had lost jobs with companies outside the county.

Washington County's civilian labor force got slightly smaller in February with 72,419 people compared to 72,469 in January, according to the labor department.

The number of employed people in Washington County decreased from 68,729 people in January to 68,396 in February.

Frederick County's unemployment rate also went up in February. It was 3.6 percent compared with 3.4 percent in January.

Statewide, the unemployment rate rose slightly from 4.5 percent to 4.6 percent in February. Nationally, the jobless rate decreased from 6.5 percent to 6.4 percent.

February's unemployment data was released late this month because the U.S. Department of Labor revamped the statistical method for calculating the unemployment rate in an effort to make the numbers more accurate.

Normally, unemployment rate and work force information is released the first Friday of the month for two months' prior.

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