Maryland lost 600 jobs in February but also saw its overall unemployment rate dip to 5.7 percent, in part thanks to a revision of much steeper losses reported in January, according to new estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor.

February's unemployment rate, a hair lower than January's revised 5.8 percent, is the lowest in the state since November 2008. Despite the hundreds of job losses estimated in February, January's reported reduction of 9,800 jobs was revised to a loss of 6,100 jobs.

The February losses, announced Friday, add to a tempered jobs outlook crystallized in the state last month, when revised 2013 numbers showed reported gains — used by Maryland officials to claim a full recovery from recession job losses — had been substantially overestimated.

In a statement, Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard Howie said the February report "continues to reflect losses from recent seasonal factors," but that his department "remains focused on cultivating a thriving workforce" to meet Maryland's economic needs.

Daraius Irani, executive director of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University, said the February numbers included "nothing really exciting."

Much of the losses came from the construction sector, he said, which is not surprising given recent poor weather.

Irani said he and others have predicted 2014 will be a strong year, and whether that turns out to be true should come more into focus soon.

Now through May is a crucial time for an economy to restabilize after a shaky winter, he said, but March numbers also could be "goofy" because of wild temperature fluctuations.

State officials said despite the past two months of losses and the revised gains of 2013, the state has made "significant progress" in the past year.

Compared to February 2013, the state has added 7,600 jobs, the Labor Department said, including 6,400 in the private sector.

krector@baltsun.com

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