Baltimore area drags state to higher unemployment rate

Maryland's unemployment rate rose slightly in August, the state said yesterday, as summer workers began to leave their jobs and the size of the labor force declined.

The jobless rate rose to 6.6 percent, up from 6.5 percent in July, according to the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development. The state figures, released one month after national numbers, are not adjusted for seasonal factors.


The August report, a mixed bag of rising and falling employment across the state, gave economists little reason to expect much of a recovery in the coming months.

"I would say we're moving in lock step" with the nation, "which is that we're going nowhere fast," said Michael Conte, director of nTC the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Center for Business and Economic Studies.


Even Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of economic and employment development, was resigned to more of the same. "Although some signs are encouraging," he said in a statement, "Maryland's recovery from the recession continues to be weak, as shown by the mixed economic data."

While manufacturing employment rose in August by 500 jobs, it remained below the August 1991 level. Non-manufacturing employment fell by more than 8,000 jobs since the end of July and by nearly 36,000 jobs since a year ago.

On a regional basis, unemployment rose only in the Baltimore metropolitan area. It actually fell in the Washington and Western Maryland regions, while staying the same elsewhere in the state. But Baltimore City saw joblessness increase to 10.7 percent -- the highest rate in the state -- from 10.3 percent in July, while unemployment in the metropolitan area rose to 7.6 percent from 7.4 percent.

The biggest decline in unemployment came in Western Maryland, where joblessness fell to 9.0 percent from 9.7 percent, primarily because of a drop in size of the labor force. Manufacturing recalls also added to the decline in unemployment.

The state also reported that new automobile registrations were up 11.2 percent from July, to 26,408 registrations. And both manufacturing employment and wages increased slightly during the month.