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Jobless rate lowest in almost four years

November 24, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County's unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in October, the lowest it has been in almost four years, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

"That's a wonderful number and it shows the economy is continuing to chug along very nicely here in Washington County," said Timothy Troxell, executive director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

The county's unemployment rate was 3.1 percent in December 2000, according to the labor department's Web site.

The jobless rate was 3.4 percent in September.

The number of county residents employed during the October employment survey was 69,347, an increase of 1,248 residents since the September survey, according to labor department data.

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That's a bigger increase than the increase in the number of residents in the civilian labor force. The labor force increased by 1,172 people to 71,669 people in October, according to labor department data.

Factors affecting the labor market included a mild fall, which allowed outdoor work such as construction to continue, some people starting to look for holiday seasonal jobs and a number of hirings for schools, Western Maryland Job Service Director Shanon Wolf said.

The second week in September to the second week in October was a heavy hiring time, said Linda Barkdoll, interim director of human resources for the Washington County Board of Education.

Unemployment data relates to the week of the 12th of each month, according to the labor department.

Once schools know how many students are enrolled, there's a better idea of how many support personnel are needed, Barkdoll said.

Troxell said The Home Depot's Your Other Warehouse has been hiring recently for the plumbing distributor's distribution center on Hunters Green Parkway. A company spokesperson could not be reached Tuesday.

Tractor Supply has begun hiring for the distribution center being built off Hopewell Road that is scheduled to begin operating in December, corporate Director of Human Resources Brian Evans said. So far, about 10 people have been hired.

The unemployment rates for 2004 and 2000 may be compared despite a change in the method used to calculate the unemployment rate, said Mary Jo Yeisley, administrator with Maryland's Office of Labor Market Analysis.

New population controls were added to the method of calculation, but it was done proportionately so the rates can be compared, Yeisley said. The methodology changes took effect with the January 2004 data.

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