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Weather lowers local jobless rate

April 28, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

Unemployment rates in Washington County improved slightly from February, driven by weather-dependent businesses such as landscaping and construction, experts said.

According to March unemployment rates released Tuesday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Washington County's unemployment rate fell .3 percent last month as 489 new workers were added to the civilian labor force and 634 county residents found new jobs since February, according to state labor information.

"Typically, in the spring, you start to see hiring pick up, particularly in some of the businesses that require outside work such as construction and landscaping," said Shanon Wolf, director of the Washington County One-Stop Job Center. "The hiring actually outpaced the number of people coming into the job market."

Washington County's unemployment rate decreased from 5.2 percent to 4.9 percent, just slightly higher than where it stood in March 2004 at 4.8 percent. Since January, the county's civilian labor force has increased by 376 residents, 155 having found jobs and 221 added to the number of unemployed workers here, according to labor department information.

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Maryland's unemployment rate fell slightly from 4.6 percent to 4.5 percent. Rates across the country also fell, from 5.8 percent to 5.4 percent, according to the report.

The county's unemployment rate remains higher than the state's as a whole but lower than about half its counties. Worcester County leads the state in unemployment at 10.4 percent. Unemployment rates either fell or held steady in each of the state's counties, including Worcester, which dropped from 11.8 percent in February.

Mary Jo Yeisley, administrator with Maryland's Office of Labor Market Analysis, said the rates in many of those counties, including Worcester, are driven by seasonal factors such as summer tourism.

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