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Washington Co. jobless rate highest since '96

January 02, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County's unemployment rate for November 2008 was about 72 percent higher than it was a year earlier.

State labor figures show the county's jobless rate at 6.7 percent in November, the highest it has been in almost 13 years.

That follows an October with an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent, which was a nearly six-year high.

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation since has adjusted the October rate to 6.2 percent.

The last time Washington County's unemployment rate was as high as the November level was in February 1996, when it stood at 7.7 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The previous month, January 1996, the rate was 9.3 percent.

From April 1997 to January 2008, the county's unemployment rate was less than 5 percent for 108 out of 130 months.

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But the rate has been at least 5 percent nine of the last 10 months through November 2008, the last month for which figures are available.

The state unemployment rate hit 5.1 percent in November, the first time it has been more than 5 percent in at least several years.

About a month ago, for a story about Washington County's October unemployment rate, local labor observers said many more people were looking for work, but there were fewer jobs available.

Suzette Snyder, a labor exchange administrator for the state Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation's One-Stop Job Center in Hagerstown, said at the time that requests for help finding jobs roughly had tripled.

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