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Seasonal jobs fuel growth

May 28, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail

A spike in seasonal construction and manufacturing business has spurred job growth in Washington County, local employment and economic development experts said.

The unemployment rate dropped from 4.5 percent in March to 3.7 percent in April. That is the lowest the jobless rate for the county has been since September 2002, when it was 3.7 percent.

"Generally speaking, it's a seasonal issue. As you get into spring and summer there's more hiring with construction," Western Maryland Job Service Director Shanon Wolf said. "Landscaping work picks up, and it's very typical for the rate to start going down from its typical winter highs," she said.

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The favorable job climate brought an increase of 150 civilian jobs to Washington County, according to a report released Thursday by the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Tim Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said his office is working on multiple projects to prompt job growth this year.

"We've almost already announced the same number of new jobs this year that we announced for all of last year," Troxell said.

Troxell cited as an example Home Depot's distribution center, which is expected to create about 230 new jobs in Washington County.

Statewide, 9,500 jobs were added to the employment rolls in April.

Maryland's unemployment rate of 4.0 percent is below the national rate of 5.6 percent, according the labor department.

"Positive job growth and low unemployment are signs of a healthy economy, and Maryland is experiencing both," Labor Department Secretary James D. Fielder Jr. said in a prepared statement.

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