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Washington County jobless rate rose above 10% in June

July 23, 2010|By DON AINES
  • The unemployment rate for Washington County rose to 10.2 percent in June, up from 9.8 percent in May.
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ANNAPOLIS -- The unemployment rate for Washington County rose to 10.2 percent in June, up from 9.8 percent in May.

And while the percentage of people listed as jobless was the same in June as it was in June 2009, the number of people working fell by more than 1,200, according to figures from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Layoffs and work-force reductions in the area, including Northrup-Grumman and Washington County Hospital, likely contributed to the increase, said Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Troxell also cited downsizing by Jerr-Dan Corp., which is moving operations from State Line, Pa., to McConnellsburg, Pa., and layoffs at BP Solar in Frederick, Md., as affecting the local jobs picture.

Also down from a year ago was the county's labor force -- the number of people employed and seeking work -- which dropped by more than 1,300 to 67,136, according to the department's Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning.

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From April to May, the labor force jumped by more than 500, a typical increase as college and university students enter the labor market. However, the labor force essentially was unchanged in June at 67,136, a month when high school students often are looking for work during the summer break.

The number of people listed as unemployed was up by less than 300 to 6,855, the report said.

There are hints of a recovery down the road, Troxell said.

"Our phones are ringing a little more now from companies that are at least thinking about doing something in the future" in terms of locating or expanding in the county, Troxell said.

Most of those inquiries are from companies in the early stages of planning, he said.

Maryland's jobless rate fell from 7.3 percent in May to 7.1 percent in June, while the national unemployment rate decreased from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent during the same period, according to department figures.

Baltimore City had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 11 percent, up from 10 percent in May, while Howard County had the lowest rate at 5.5 percent, according to department statistics.

Somerset County's jobless rate also was higher than Washington County at 10.4 percent, while Washington County was tied for third with Dorchester County, the report stated.

Two years ago, in June 2008, Washington County's jobless rate was 5.6 percent, the report said.

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