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Unemployment rate in Maryland continues to drop in November

Maryland’s unemployment rate dropped to 4 percent in November, from 4.1 percent the month before, reflecting a solid labor market that economists say could help the state withstand the budget uncertainty in Washington.

Unemployment is also lower than a year ago, but still not as low as the national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, which was unchanged from the month before, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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“The numbers look good,” said R. Andrew Bauer, a Baltimore-based senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va.

And even if there is a partial government shutdown over spending, or newly empowered Democratic lawmakers and the Trump administration battle over fiscal policies in the new year, the consequences would be temporary and unlikely to cause lasting harm to the state’s economy, he said.

Any shutdown would effect Maryland’s large numbers of federal workers and contractors, Bauer said, but that is to be expected because the state is so close to the nation’s capital.

“Businesses and consumers have come to a point where they’ve lived with uncertainty long enough that they know how to handle it,” he said. “As a consequence overall they are a little more cautious than they would be and take fewer risks. The data shows that. But for the short term, the Maryland economy will be able to weather some discord over what happens with the budget.”

For now, Bauer sees mostly positives.

The state added 7,900 jobs in November, and 36,700 over the year, for a gain of 1.3 percent.

Jobs were added in categories including trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; and government. Professional and business services had the biggest increase with 4,700 jobs added last month.

Positions were lost in construction and financial services. Manufacturing lost the most jobs — 1,200.

State officials say the state is prepared.

"Maryland’s strong economy provides a stable foundation for employers to invest in and grow their businesses, creating a need for talent," Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz said. "Maryland’s workforce development programs meet that need by creating formal career paths to good jobs, reducing barriers to employment, providing occupational skills development, and so much more. These innovative programs work with employers to strategically build and strengthen their talent pipeline, ensuring a ready and capable workforce both now and in the future."

Schulz will become secretary of the state’s Department of Commerce in January. James Rzepkowski will become acting secretary of the labor department, moving from his post as assistant secretary for its division of workforce development and adult learning. There will be a search for permanent secretary.

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