The unemployment rate in Washington County dropped in July, according to figures released Friday.
The county's July jobless rate was 9.7 percent, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation reported.
In June, the county's unemployment rate was 10.1 percent. That figure was revised upward from the 10.0 preliminary rate announced July 29.
Statewide, the unemployment rate in July was 7.2 percent, up from 7.1 percent in June, the DLLR reported. Nationally, the jobless rate for July was 9.1 percent, down from 9.2 percent in June, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Peter Thomas, executive director of the Western Maryland Consortium, a regional workforce development agency, said he saw the slight dip in Washington County's unemployment rate as a normal fluctuation.
"I think we're just seeing the ebb and flow of people that would be normal for any period of time," Thomas said. "We certainly have not seen any significant increases in hiring activity, but at the same time we have not seen any additions to the unemployment numbers as a result of any layoff events. So I think we're just kind of bumping along."
The DLLR reported that 6,467 Washington County residents were unemployed in July, out of a total labor force of 67,003.
In June, there were 6,794 unemployed out of a total labor force of 67,511, according to state figures.
Although the unemployment rate fell, the number of people holding jobs in Washington County declined from 60,717 in June to 60,536 in July, the DLLR figures showed.
Washington County's average unemployment rate for the first seven months of 2011 was 9.9 percent, the DLLR reported. It reached a high of 10.7 percent in January.
The county jobless rate in July 2010 was slightly higher than July 2011, at 9.9 percent.
In Hagerstown, the July 2011 unemployment rate was 11 percent, up from 10.8 percent in June.
Thomas said while it was good news that the county's rate had dropped rather than climbed, "we're all just waiting for the big recovery."
From an employment standpoint, that is not yet on the horizon, he said.
"The one thing I have seen that I do consider good news is a lot of the temp firms are very busy," Thomas said.
Many employers that are hiring are using temps because they are uncertain how long the work will last, he said. Workers will skills such as maintenance, warehousing or operating machinery are particularly in demand for temporary jobs, Thomas said.
"There are jobs there," he said. "Unfortunately, a lot of people are holding out for full-time, permanent jobs with full benefits, and those aren't readily available, and won't be until employers feel comfortable that they can sustain new workers for an extended period of time."