Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning


Labor Force and Industry Developments - Maryland Monthly Labor Review - February 2009


The economic free fall continued in February, causing Marylandís unemployment rate to rise and industry payrolls to tumble downward. The statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed by 0.5 percentage points over-the-month to a level of 6.7 percent in February -- marking the thirteenth consecutive month of rising unemployment. The upturn in Marylandís rate mirrors that of the nation where a like increase raised unemployment to 8.1 percent.

The national recession appears to have fully taken root in Marylandís labor market, causing unemployment to rise rapidly over the past few months. The statewide unemployment rate has advanced by nearly two full percentage points since last Octoberís level of 4.8 percent. Since the downturn began in December 2007, the number of employed has declined by nearly 113,000 persons and the number of unemployed has risen by just over 93,450 to 200,470, a level surpassing previous records set in the downturn of the early 1990ís.

Current economic conditions have created a challenging market for jobseekers and employers alike. According to Marylandís monthly business survey, the number of jobs on industry payrolls, following seasonal adjustment, declined by 6,600. Seven of the stateís ten business sectors reduced employment levels over-the-month. Nearly 5,500 jobs were cut from construction payrolls during February, bringing the total number of jobs in this business sector to its lowest level since 2000. Professional and business services, an industry which, up to this point, has remained relatively unscathed during the current downturn, was the second largest job loser in February. A monthly job decline of 2,800 was reported, with businesses providing administrative and support services the most sorely affected.

Over the past year, downsizing by Maryland employers have diminished the stateís business base by an estimated 52,000 jobs. Construction and trade have been the hardest hit industries, with combined losses in these sectors accounting for about nine out of every ten jobs lost. While recent job losses have taken their toll on the statewide economy, the depth of the downturn in Marylandís has not reached national proportions. Nationally, the pace of job declines since the onset of the recession in December 2007, estimated at 3.2 percent, has far outdistanced that of 1.8 percent reported in Maryland.

Seasonal economics, coupled with recessionary job loss, caused employment to subside and unemployment to rise in February in each of the stateís local jurisdictions with the exception of Worcester County. Worcesterís rate, while inching down slightly, remained the statewide high at 16.5 percent. Some of the largest upward movements in local unemployment rates, of 0.8 percentage points or more, occurred in Caroline, Harford and Washington counties.

The impact of the recession is clearly visible at the local level. Upward unemployment movements in Howard and Montgomery, counties in which rates are characteristically low, are indicative of the difficulties facing jobseekers in the current economic climate. Unemployment rates in these counties rose to 5.2 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively in February Ė the highest rates on record in these jurisdictions.


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