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Jobless rate jumps in June

August 02, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County's unemployment rate increased from 4.3 percent in May to 4.8 percent in June as Garden State Tanning workers went on strike and the tannery permanently laid off 90 people, officials said.

The number of unemployed people in the county increased by 397 people - from 3,106 to 3,503 - in June, according to preliminary estimates released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The unemployment rate typically increases in June as high school and college students enter the labor force looking for summer jobs, state Labor Department spokesman Marco Merrick said.

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The county's civilian labor force increased 1,497 people, from 71,802 people in May to 73,299 people in June, according to the Labor Department.

"Everybody that actually trickled into the labor force obviously didn't get a job," Merrick said.

June also was the month union members at Garden State Tanning's local operations went on strike. When the strike ended, the company moved 90 cutting department jobs to the Fleetwood, Pa., plant and laid off the local workers, union officials have said.

Those 90 former employees of the automotive leather manufacturer are included in the 178 people whose unemployment claims are being held up because of the strike, Hagerstown lawyer William Proctor said. Proctor was hired by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Workers to help members who are eligible for unemployment receive their checks as soon as possible.

Union members ended the strike after nine days and returned to work on June 10.

Garden State officials have argued that some employees were not eligible for unemployment because of the strike, Proctor has said.

Prior to June, Washington County's unemployment rate had been steadily declining since February, when it was 5.5 percent, according to Labor Department statistics.

Frederick County's unemployment rate remained steady at 3 percent in June, according to the Labor Department.

Statewide, the jobless rate increased from 4.3 percent in May to 4.6 percent in June.

Nationally, the unemployment rate in June was 6.5 percent, up from 5.8 percent.

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