Washington County jobless rate climbed to 10 percent in June, preliminary figures show

July 29, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Washington County unemployment rates, June 2010 through June 2011
Washington County unemployment rates, June 2010 through June 2011

The job picture in Washington County worsened in June as the number of people working dropped by more than 400 while more than 300 people were added to the unemployment rolls, according to preliminary state figures released Friday.

 The May rate was revised downward from 9.6 percent to 9.5 percent in the report from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, but the preliminary rate for June was 10 percent.

The report showed the number of people employed fell by 432 to 60,742, while the number of unemployed rose 338 to 6,759.

"There were not any major downsizings that we were made aware of," said Tim Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Continued worries about the national economy, including the stalemate on raising the national debt limit, leave many companies hesitant to hire, Troxell said.

"This is a jobless recovery. The major companies are not bringing back full-time employees because of the uncertainty," he said.

And the outcome of the debt debate might not end that uncertainty.

"If it's just a temporary fix, it's not, in my opinion, going to change the outlook of corporate America," Troxell said.

The jobless rate is little changed from the 10.1 percent rate in June 2010, the report said. During the economic downtown, the unemployment rate peaked at 11.9 percent in February 2010.

The city of Hagerstown accounted for much of the change in the county jobless picture. The number of people working was down by 120 to 16,852, while the number of unemployed rose by 235 to 2,151, the report said.

That sent the jobless rate up from 10.1 percent in May to 11.3 percent in June, the report said.

Maryland's unemployment rate rose from 6.8 percent in May to 7 percent in June, the report said. The national unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in June.

Only Dorchester and Somerset counties and Baltimore City had higher jobless rates than Washington County in Maryland, the report said. Howard and Montgomery counties were tied for the lowest rates at 5.6 percent.

In June, the state added 2,800 jobs in professional and business services, a category that includes temporary workers, along with 1,300 jobs in the transportation, warehousing and utilities category, the department said. Another 3,500 state and local jobs were created — a figure Troxell said could well be attributed to summer jobs programs.

The statewide report also showed 1,400 fewer federal jobs and 2,800 jobs lost in the natural resources, mining and construction sector, primarily due to a struggling construction industry.

The county jobless rate began the year at 10.7 percent and hit its low with a 9.2 percent rate in April. The rate averaged 10 percent through the first half of 2011.

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