Anne Arundel is still losing jobs, but the county's demographer saysthe decline in employment has slowed down.

Even though several ofthe county's largest employers laid off workers last year, the county lost jobs each month through October at a much slower rate than it had in the past and even gained jobs in September, said Alexander D. Speer, who charts employment trends for the county Department of Planning and Zoning.

"There has been a steady improvement since December 1990," when the county had 13,000 fewer jobs than the same month in 1989, Speer said.

Between June and December in 1990, the county lost jobs each month, marking the longest period in nearly a decade in which it lost jobs. December's loss far exceeded those of any month since 1981, including the period of recession from August 1981 through November 1982.

Government and business officials attributed the losses to slowdowns in construction and retail sales, as well as to hiring freezes imposed by some companies.

In July of last year though, the county experienced only a minimal loss, with the number dropping from 213,817 jobs in July 1990 to 213,573.

And in August, the number again fell only slightly, to 210,145 from 210,622 a year earlier.

In September, the county gained jobs over the previous year, from 208,741 to 209,844. And in October, the latest month for which statistics are available, the number of jobs dropped only slightly, from 208,074 in October 1990 to 207,870.

"The overall trend is one of improvement," Speer said. "We had lost so many jobs already. We'd already gone through severe trimbacks.

"With a growing population base you'd expecta growing job base," he said, referring to hundreds of new homes under construction in the western county and services that will accommodate new residents.

Speer cited a more diversified economy as another reason for improvements. Government accounts for only about one-third of the county's jobs, not half, as it had 20 years ago, he said.

At the state level, an annual economy report showed employment continuing to grow last year despite a dramatic slowdown in the nation'seconomy.

During the first 10 months of 1991, employment increasedby 93,200 persons in the state, a 4 percent gain, the Department of Employment and Economic Development report said.

"It is difficult to find good economic news in the year just ended, but the underlyingstrength and diversity of the Maryland economy has helped us weatherthe recession of 1991 and should put us in a position to lead the nation out of the recession in 1992," said Mark L. Wasserman, secretaryof economic and employment development.

Weaknesses in the state economy in construction and retail sales paralleled weaknesses in the national economy. During the first 10 months of 1991, building permits for non-residential construction fell 7.7 percent in the state, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Manufacturing jobs in Maryland stood at slightly less than 200,000 jobs in October 1991, down 7,600, or 3.6 percent, from the previous October. But the state's non-manufacturing employment grew by 32,900, or 1.7 percent, from January to October.

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