County's jobless rate fell to 9.7% in April

May 29, 2009

Washington County's unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in April, ending a streak of six consecutive months in which the jobless rate had increased, according to figures released Friday.

The county's jobless rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point lower than the March rate of 10.5 percent. However, it remained higher than state and national rates for April.

The Maryland Division of Labor, Licensing and Regulation reported that in April, 6,614 people were unemployed out of a total labor force of 68,010. In March, there were 7,163 unemployed out of a total labor force of 68,338, according to the DLLR.

The number of unemployed went down by 549 from March to April and the number of people with jobs increased by 221 during that time, according to DLLR figures.


Peter Thomas, executive director of the Western Maryland Consortium, said local work-force development officials hope the drop signifies the beginning of a trend.

"All in all, I'm very pleased with these numbers because I was concerned they'd be worse than March's numbers, and they're considerably better," Thomas said.

Thomas said he didn't know what was driving unemployment rates down, but thought the drop might indicate that some of the federal government's recent actions aimed at economic recovery could be starting to show positive results.

The numbers also coincide with recent reports of increased consumer confidence, Thomas said.

He noted that the rash of large layoffs and closings the county experienced in 2008 and into January of 2009 seemed to have ended.

Another factor that could have cut down on unemployment rates slightly in April is the return of seasonal construction work, Thomas said.

Thomas said he has seen through his work that people have been finding jobs.

"They're having to look harder to find it, and in some cases they're having to travel farther to take work, but that's not a terrible thing," he said.

Maryland's unemployment rate in April was 6.6 percent, down from 6.9 percent in March, the DLLR said.

Nationwide, the jobless rate for April was 8.9 percent, up from 8.6 percent in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In April 2008, Washington County's jobless rate was 4.6 percent. From October 2008 to March 2009, it had gone up every month, according to DLLR figures.

Staff writer Heather Keels contributed to this story.

The Herald-Mail Articles