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Washington County unemployment rate drops to 8.8 percent in Feb.

April 06, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
By Chad Trovinger/Graphic Artist

The unemployment rate in Washington County fell from 9.4 percent in January to 8.8 percent in February, and the number of people working and the total labor force also dropped, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

From December to January, the county jobless rate rose from 8.9 percent to 9.4 percent as the labor force — the combination of people employed, unemployed and looking for work — rose by more than 2,800, last month’s report said. That report came after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its annual benchmark revisions, based on a broader survey of employment and unemployment than the sample-based monthly surveys.

The labor force number settled back in February, falling by 903 to 70,859, the report said. The January report showed an increase of more than 2,200 people working over December, but that number retreated in February by nearly 400 to 64,649.

The number of people listed as unemployed was down by 516, falling from 6,726 to 6,210, the report said.

Hagerstown’s jobless rate fell from 10.6 percent in January to 10.1 percent, as the number of people working rose by 105 to 17,613 and the number of unemployed dropped by more than 100 to 1,984, the report said.

Since February 2012, when the jobless rate was 9.5 percent, the number of employed has grown by 2,364, according to state figures.

Also in the past year, jobs in the administrative support services category have risen 14.3 percent, while trade, transportation and warehousing are up 6.7 percent year to year, the report said.

“When trade, transportation and warehousing are up, that means the economy is picking up,” said Peter Thomas, executive director of the Western Maryland Consortium, which manages job-training programs for Maryland’s three western counties..

On the downside, the report showed natural resources and construction employment off by 9.8 percent from last year and manufacturing jobs down 4.9 percent.

“Part of that is we’re still in the doldrums here as far as construction,” Thomas said. “Manufacturing is more a function of the national economy” and follows the national trend, he said.

Washington County improved its standing among Maryland’s 23 counties and the city of Baltimore, going from having the 20th highest jobless rate in January to the 17th highest, the report said. Howard County had the lowest rate at 4.8 percent and Worcester County the highest at 16.8 percent, the report said.

Maryland’s jobless rate fell from 7.2 percent to 6.9 percent in February, the report said. The national jobless rate in February was 7.7 percent and fell to 7.6 percent in March, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.

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