Maryland unemployment rate ticks down to 4.2 percent in August

The unemployment rate in Maryland ticked down in August to 4.2 percent from 4.3 percent the previous month, but remained higher than a year ago when it was 4 percent.

The dip was the first downward movement in the rate in six months and narrowed the gap to the national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, which was unchanged from July but a half a percentage point lower than a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Maryland, 4,600 jobs were added in August, marking the fourth consecutive month of gains. Positions were added in most categories, including leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; manufacturing and construction.

Employment was down in financial activities and government sectors.

The bureau more than doubled its estimate for jobs added in the state for July to 6,500 jobs, up from 2,900.

Maryland has added about 20,300 job in the past 12 months, for a year-over-year rate of 0.7 percent, which trails the national rate of 1.6 percent, according to a review by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

The state’s job growth has been lagging the U.S. rate since April 2011, though Maryland’s job growth has picked up in the last few months and has exceeded the national rate, according to the review.

The Baltimore metro area added 10,200 jobs in August, marking the region’s largest monthly gain this year, the fed economists said. With gains over the past year, the city’s gains now match the national pace of job growth, they said.

Economists have said job gain could have been higher, but businesses are having trouble finding workers for their open positions when the jobless rate in the state and nation are so low.

The state has sought to train more workers for the positions available.

"The unique challenges presented by our healthy economy have engaged industry more actively with the state in the process of building our talent pipeline,” said state Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz in a statement. “Programs like apprenticeship and EARN Maryland — which both leverage our employers’ knowledge and experience to develop a well-trained, responsive workforce — are experiencing tremendous success with extremely high return on investment and participation. With this momentum, we can continue filling the jobs created by our tremendous growth."

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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