Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning


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


The reality of faltering economic conditions continued to negatively impact upon the status of Maryland jobseekers during October. Maryland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, while remaining well below that of 6.5 percent reported nationally, continued to trend upward, rising by 0.4 percentage points to 5.0 percent in October – its highest level on record in more than a decade.

During October, employment among Maryland residents declined by an estimated 12,760 persons, marking the fifth consecutive month of dwindling employment.  Declines over the past two months have put employment below its year ago levels. In October, there were nearly 26,770 fewer Marylanders employed than a year ago when the unemployment rate stood at 3.6 percent.

Maryland’s business payrolls also showed signs of slippage in October, with job reductions in construction, manufacturing and several service-producing industries contributing to an overall decline of 1,600 jobs. Retail trade’s downswing, while not necessarily atypical, outstripped that of all other industries. The closing of multiple locations of Boscov’s in October contributed to a larger than anticipated reduction in this sector’s business activity. On the up side, the leisure and hospitality industry was the focal point of hiring activity over-the-month.

Despite the decline in October’s business activity, Maryland’s industry payrolls have added about 23,000 jobs since last October – a movement countering that of the nation which shows a decline of nearly 1.1 million jobs over the past year.

Normally job market conditions tend to be relatively vibrant during October. Early holiday hiring generally begins, helping to minimize the movement of local unemployment rates. This year, however, employers are reluctant to hire due to declining conditions in the job market. As a result, local unemployment rates across the state trended upward during October. In Worcester, a county where seasonal economics contributes to rising unemployment this time of year, unemployment shot up by nearly 3.0 full percentage points – an increase much larger than the norm. Sizeable upturns were also reported in Wicomico, Cecil and Washington counties as well as in Baltimore City.

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