Jobless rate rises slightly in Washington County for month of August

September 30, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • August unemployment rates
August unemployment rates

The number of people unemployed in Washington County remained static from July to August, but a dip in the labor force and the number of people employed led to a slight increase in the jobless rate, according to preliminary figures released recently by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The rate went from 9.7 percent in July to 9.8 percent in August, with the number of unemployed rising by just three to 6,465, the report said.

However, the labor force — the combination of people employed and those actively seeking work — dropped by 388 to 66,057, while the number of employed fell by 391 to 59,592, the report said.

Compared with August 2010, when the county jobless rate was 10.4 percent, 1,100 more people were working and the labor force had 1,700 more people. One possible bright spot in the report is that almost 600 more people were listed as unemployed in August 2010 as in August 2011.

Although Tim Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, could not recall any major layoffs or company closings in August, he said the numbers could reflect seasonal employment trends, such as summer jobs for students.

The labor force and work force numbers for the county fell similarly in August 2010, the report said.

The static employment situation might be around for a while, Troxell said.

The chief economist for an international banking firm who recently addressed the annual conference of the International Economic Development Council did not foresee much change in the national employment picture, according to Troxell.

Locally, however, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony next week for V-T Industries, which has occupied a former industrial facility on Western Maryland Parkway, Troxell said. The company manufactures fine laminate countertops, he said.

So far this year, unemployment in Washington County has averaged 9.9 percent, the report said.

The city of Hagerstown also saw its jobless rate inch up from 10.7 percent to 10.8 percent, the report said. The number of people listed as unemployed was almost unchanged, rising by six to 1,997, but the number working was down by 108 to 16,533.

The new report puts Washington County near the bottom of the list for unemployment in Maryland, just ahead of Dorchester County at 10.1 percent and Baltimore City at 11.1 percent. Montgomery County had the lowest jobless rate at 5.4 percent.

Maryland's unemployment rate increased from 7.1 percent to 7.3 percent, the report said. The rate for the United States held steady at 9.1 percent.

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