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County jobless rate rises

April 05, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Annual factors for the month, including an end to the holiday shopping season, drove up Washington County's unemployment rate slightly in January, according to Western Maryland Job Service Director Shanon Wolf.

"It's up from December, but January is typically high, or higher, so the increase is fairly typical," Wolf said. "It's due in part to weather, to shutdowns for a variety of reasons, and a lot of people fall out of the labor force."

The data was included in the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's unemployment report for January, which revealed a .6 percent increase in the county's jobless rate from December's 4 percent figure.

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Wolf cautioned that for January the department revised its methods for collecting jobless rates and an exact comparison to prior months cannot accurately be made. At the same time, she said, the climb in unemployment rates hold true for January historically.

According to the report, 456 workers were added to the unemployment rolls, sending the unemployment rate up to 4.6 percent. Offsetting that, the county added 581 new workers to its civilian work force, bringing the overall number of workers to 68,513. Of those, 65,340 were employed at the time the January figures were released.

Statewide, the figure held steady from December to January and fell marginally from January 2004. Both rates are lower than the national average, which fell from 5.4 percent to 5.2 percent from December to January.

Bob Ruppenkamp, director of the Cumberland, Md, unemployment insurance claims center for the labor department, said furloughed workers at Fleetwood Travel Trailers of Maryland Inc. accounted for a majority of the 434 statewide bulk claims he received in January. Ruppenkamp said he did not know whether any of those affected workers, including 233 from Fleetwood's Hancock plant and 201 from its Williamsport plant, had been rehired yet.

"That accounted for the biggest portion of those bulk claims," he said. "That was a significant number."

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