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County unemployment rate drops

July 04, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County's unemployment rate decreased from 4.6 percent in April to 4.3 percent in May, according to preliminary estimates released Thursday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The unemployment rate in Washington County typically stays the same or drops slightly at this time of year with seasonal hiring and more people entering the labor market, said Shanon Wolf, job service director of the labor department's Hagerstown office.

While people entered the labor market to search for jobs in May, more people left the labor market. That resulted in the labor market shrinking by 47 people to 71,839 people in May, according to the labor department.

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The number of people entering the labor market was offset by people who were temporarily laid off and not looking for work, Wolf said.

Some local companies lay off workers briefly during the year while equipment is maintained or upgraded, or they shut down manufacturing to give employees a vacation.

In May, Hadley Farms in Smithsburg laid off 48 people for a week and Beachley Furniture Company Inc. in Hagerstown laid off 36 people for a week, said Bob Ruppenkamp, director of unemployment insurance at the Cumberland, Md., claims center.

The number of employed in the county increased by 143 people to 68,738 people in May, according to the labor department.

Despite rainy weather, some businesses may have begun seasonal hiring because they need to be open regardless of the weather or they need to start training people, Wolf said.

The number of unemployed in Washington County decreased by 190 people to 3,101 people in May, according to the labor department.

Frederick County's jobless rate decreased slightly from 3 percent in April to 2.9 percent in May, according to the labor department.

Statewide, the unemployment rate increased from 4.1 percent in April to 4.2 percent in May, according to the labor department.

The national unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent from April to May.

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