Unemployment in Harford County continued to steadily decrease through the end of 2011, according to the latest statistics from the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
In November, 6.2 percent of Harford County residents did not have jobs, a drop from 6.6 percent in October and 7.1 percent in September.
Those are the lowest unemployment rates for those months since 2008, when the recession started.
The number of unemployed residents in November — 8,194 — is the lowest since January 2008.
The overall yearly average through November was 7.1 percent, only slightly lower than the rate of 7.5 in 2010 and 7.3 in 2009.
That is in line with the rest of the Baltimore metro area, which had a rate of 7.1 percent in October and 6.7 in November. (The statewide averages were 6.8 and 6.4, respectively.)
The rates in Cecil County, by comparison, hovered around 8 percent.
The end-of-the-year rates have typically been lower than those for January and February
Bruce England, executive director of Susquehanna Workforce Network Inc., said Monday it remains to be seen if those numbers carry through into the first few months of 2012, but he did call the lower rates a positive sign.
"In Harford County and the region, we have had several things occur that have brought many more employment opportunities," he said, mentioning Kohl's warehouse in Edgewood and Sephora warehouse in Belcamp.
"The last quarter of the year is an uptick for a lot of distribution companies. Some of our distribution companies are expanding or moving," England said. "Sephora had a significant uptick when they were getting their Christmas [stock] out the door. Kohl's and Sephora were probably the most aggressive."
The gains in employment do not seem, however, limited to one industry, he said.
"We have seen steady improvement in hiring over several industries," he said. "We will look at the next two months and if the hiring we saw [continues] into the next quarter… then that is a really good sign that things are improving."
"We are seeing positive gains and positive hiring trends, and it's not just one sector that we are seeing it in," he said.