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Six hundred more people were unemployed in Carroll in December than November, as the county's unemployment rate jumped from 5.4 percent to 6.4 percent.

The increase can be attributed to seasonal layoffs of construction workers, landscapers and others whose jobs are affected by cold weather, a county unemployment official said.

"December was full of people coming in who traditionally come in then -- all outdoors people," said Theodora Stephen, manager of the state Department of Economic and Employment Development in Westminster.

"It was all seasonal," she said.

Thomas Bennett & Hunter Inc.laid off about 10 workers from its Westminster excavating and pavingoperation after Christmas, President L. Albert Beaver said. Five others were laid off at a Washington County plant, he said.

The layoffs were "totally weather related," he said, adding that economic conditions were not a factor.

Workers can't handle concrete in freezing weather, he said. They will be called back in March, he said.

TBH employs about 70 people, Beaver said.

In Carroll in December, the latest month for which numbers are available, 4,084 people were unemployed, compared to 3,477 in November, DEED numbers released Friday show.

The county's civilian labor force, which includes people with jobs and those actively seeking work, decreased by 485 people, DEEDreported. In December, the labor force numbered 63,766.

The county's unemployment rate in December 1990 was 5.9 percent.

Statewide,about 16,000 more people were unemployed in December, as the joblessrate increased from 6.1 percent in November to 6.8 percent in December, DEED reported.

The rise was attributed to fewer Christmas-related jobs and other seasonal factors, DEED said.

A year ago in December, Maryland's rate was 6.1 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in January, unchanged from December, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday. (U.S. numbers are one month ahead of state numbers.)

The department said 8.9 million Americans were unemployed last month.

At Kibler Construction Co. Inc. in Finksburg, six workers were laid off in January and three in December, office manager Diana Coyne said.

The company has 45 people on its payrollnow and is fortunate to have had work so far this winter, she said.

"Hopefully, the economy will turn around" so workers can be rehired, Coyne said.

The company builds roads and bridges for the state and county and employs 55 to 60 people at its peak in the summer, shesaid.

C.J. "Buck" Miller, owner of a Hampstead construction company, said he laid off 150 workers at Christmas time and has called 60 back. Fourteen more will return tomorrow, and the others will be working by April, he said. The company normally employs 235 to 250 people.

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