Maryland's unemployment rate stays constant in July at 4.3 percent

The unemployment rate in July in Maryland was 4.3 percent, unchanged from recent months and up from 4.1 percent a year ago, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s relatively the same as the national rate, which dipped .1 percentage point from for the month to 3.9 percent. It was down .4 percentage point from a year ago.

In the past month in Maryland, education and health services gained 2,900 jobs, the most of any sector. Other areas adding jobs were manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and government.

The most jobs were lost in leisure and hospitality, which dropped 1,400 positions. Jobs were also lost in construction and financial activities.

Andy Bauer, a senior regional economist at the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said more people entered the labor force, masking some of the increases — there were 5,300 total jobs added in July. Though, he said jobs growth in Maryland has lagged national job growth.

Still, he saw positive signs and expected improvements in coming months. He specifically cited the professional and business services sector as making a turnaround. The slowdown in that area could have been from reduced federal contracting because of smaller federal budgets.

The sector added 2,100 jobs in July and he expected to see more positions added, if employers can find enough workers. He said businesses have reported more aggressive and creative marketing of their positions and in some cases lower expectations of the qualifications of candidates.

“Data that came out today indicate the labor market continues to do fairly well,” Bauer said. “On the Maryland side we’re seeing some encouraging signs about some of the weaknesses, suggesting we should see a stronger second half of the year. One of the themes of late has been weakness on the Maryland side. Year over year, employment growth is below what we would expect, below the nation.”

One sour note was a drop in jobs in the leisure and hospitality area, which continues a trend that he said he could not explain because there had been no big layoffs.

The state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation highlighted the gain of 5,300 jobs for the month of July from several sectors and a total of 16,500 jobs added in the past year.

The state’s June jobs estimate was also revised and showed a gain of 1,200 jobs rather than a loss of 5,500 jobs.

“Maryland’s job growth exemplifies our employers’ faith in the state’s economy," said Kelly M. Schulz, state labor secretary, in a statement.

“Finding qualified workers to fill these positions can be challenging,” said Schulz, adding the state has several training programs. “These industry-led programs meet specific workforce needs, ensuring a continual pipeline of qualified, ready workers.”

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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