Unemployment rises in Maryland as state loses 20,200 jobs in December

Maryland lost an estimated 20,200 jobs in December as the state’s unemployment rate ticked up to 4 percent.

While the state’s unemployment remains below the national average, Maryland experienced job losses across all major sectors last month, led by professional and business services, which shed 6,000 jobs.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly report on jobs and unemployment on Tuesday.

The state Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation noted in a news release that jobs statewide are up by 31,400 since December 2016, a gain of 1.1 percent.

The BLS reported that Maryland had 130,247 unemployed in December, up from 126,066 in November. The state Labor Department cited that wide discrepancy between the reported job losses and new unemployment insurance claims, saying the numbers “will be assessed to determine the variances in reported data.”

Darius Irani, chief economist at Towson University's Regional Economic Studies Institute, said the losses seemed “rather large.”

“Given the preliminary nature and the likelihood they will be revised, I think it would be premature to speculate on the reasons why,” he said in an email. “The year-to-year change still shows strong job growth.

“The lack of a federal budget, shutdowns notwithstanding, may be contributing to the loss in jobs in some of these sectors as federal agencies don’t have the funds or are unsure of their budget levels for [federal fiscal year 2018]. The new administration has reprioritized certain grants and support to states, so that may be in these numbers.”

Among other sectors seeing large job losses were trade, transportation and utilities and leisure and hospitality, which each lost 2,900 jobs; the government sector, which lost 2,200 jobs; and education and health services, which lost 2,100 jobs.

The BLS also revised downward the initial job gains estimated for November by 500 jobs, to 4,900.

cdinsmore@baltsun.com

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