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Washington County's jobless rate at 10 percent for July

August 27, 2010|By DON AINES
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The July unemployment figures for Washington County show the jobless rate edged down slightly, as did the number of people working, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The revised jobless rate for June was 10.1 percent, and the July rate was 10 percent, according to the state figures. The preliminary June rate was 10.2 percent.

"We're not seeing any real good, positive trends in the local economy. A good portion of the local economy is tied to the national economy," said Robin Ferree, deputy director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Construction, real estate and the industries that produce and transport goods remain in a trough, and until they come back the local economy might not bounce back, Ferree said. He said he was encouraged by the small decrease in the jobless rate, a sign that the economy might be stabilizing.

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The number of people employed in the county fell by nearly 600 to 59,808, while the number listed as unemployed was down by 132 to 6,615, the report said. The labor force, the combined number of people working and seeking work, fell by about 700 to 66,423.

In July 2009, the jobless rate for the county was 9.6 percent, but 61,793 people were working, almost 2,000 more than in the July 2010 report.

Washington County does not have the benefit of being in a major metropolitan area, such as Washington, D.C., where unemployment is considerably lower, Ferree said.

"They're so much tied to the federal government, and that's one place where jobs are increasing," Ferree said.

Statewide, the unemployment rate for Maryland was unchanged at 7.1 percent, just slightly better than the 7.2 percent recorded in July 2009. There were 37,000 fewer people working in the state than in July 2009, according to state figures.

Among 23 counties and Baltimore City, Washington County had the fourth-highest jobless rate, the report said. The highest was in Baltimore City at 11.5 percent, and the lowest were in Howard and Montgomery counties, which had matching rates of 5.7 percent, the report said.

Neighboring Frederick County was at 6.6 percent unemployment, and Allegany County was at 9 percent, the report said.

Nationally, July's unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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