Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning


Labor Force and Industry Developments - Maryland Monthly Labor Review - December 2008


Continued deterioration in national market conditions have intensified the economic discord in Marylandís job market, causing unemployment to rise to its highest level since 1993 and increasing the depth of declines on Marylandís business payrolls.  In December, Marylandís seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, while remaining considerably below that of 7.2 percent reported nationally, rose to 5.8 percent, an increase of 0.5 percentage points over-the-month.  Decemberís upturn was somewhat anticipated as reports of shortened work schedules, layoffs and business closures continue to mount in the wake of the national economic downturn.

Over the past year, the number of Marylanders holding jobs has declined by nearly 63,800 and the statewide unemployment rate has risen by more than two full percentage points, further underscoring the impact of the national recession on the employment status of Maryland residents.

Following a revision of Novemberís payroll stats which diminished statewide business payrolls by nearly 15,000 jobs, an additional 9,800 jobs were shed by Maryland employers during December. This decline lowered the job total to just over 15,000 below the year ago level.  The downturn has begun to ripple throughout the economy. During December, cutbacks were reported in every major private sector industry group, with the exception of education and health services and financial activities which remained flat. While pre-recession growth in education and health services has slowed, continued demand in health services has managed to keep this industry afloat thus far.

Recent reports showed the largest over-the-month job declines occurring in retail trade, an industry which has begun to show stress as declining discretionary income has forced consumers to curb their spending. Reports of weak holiday sales, coupled with recent announcements by KB Toys, Circuit City and Fileneís to shutter their operations, have cast a cloud over this industry. The construction industry, reporting the second largest number of monthly job reductions, has been an industry in crisis since the onset of the downturn and, signs are pointing to continued tough times ahead. Elsewhere on business payrolls, job losses in professional and business services were tied to declining demand in temporary help service firms and, in leisure and hospitality, businesses providing accommodations and food services were the primary source of weakness.

Statewide recessionary pressures filtered throughout local economies, exacerbating the impact of job losses resulting from normal seasonal downswings. Employment declines were reported across the state, causing unadjusted unemployment rates to rise in each local jurisdiction. Unemployment rates in sixteen jurisdictions advanced by 0.5 percentage points or more, with rates in Worcester, Garrett, Cecil and Dorchester counties climbing by a full percentage point or higher.

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