Jobless rate falls to 7% Drop from 7.5% ends 2-month rise


After a two-month rise in unemployment, Carroll County's jobless rate dropped from 7.5 percent in February to 7 percent in March.

The drop mirrors a statewide decrease to 6.2 percent from 6.7 percent.

Unemployment in all of Maryland's 24 jurisdictions fell in March.

"The general trends [for the state and Carroll County] are pretty much the same," said Patrick Arnold, director of labor market analysis for the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

State employment officials said growth in seasonal employment during March lowered the unemployment rate, as construction, education, entertainment and service-related industries hired workers.

However, growth was slower than is usual in the spring.

"We are seeing a sluggish economy," said Marco K. Merrick, a spokesman for DEED. "There are no drastic changes, but unemployment is declining."

"It is encouraging that unemployment is much lower than at this time last year," said DEED Secretary Mark L. Wasserman. "Although several of the state's economic indicators are moving in a positive direction, Maryland's recovery from the recession remains sluggish."

DEED officials said they were encouraged that fewer people filed for unemployment insurance in March, even though the number of people seeking employment continued to rise.

The number of Carroll residents working or seeking work rose to 68,747 in March from 68,618 in February, and the number of people filing for unemployment insurance dropped to 4,786 from 5,157.

"There were still jobs available," Mr. Merrick said. "So far, we've been able to offset the number of people entering the labor force."

The number of people working in Carroll County rose to 63,961 in March from 63,461 in February.

Joblessness also was lower than it had been a year before. In March 1992, unemployment was 7.4 percent in Carroll County and the state.

The Baltimore metropolitan area, of which Carroll is considered a part, showed the same decline in unemployment, from 7.5 percent in February to 7 percent in March.

State officials attributed the improvement in the metropolitan area to employment growth, particularly seasonal hiring.

They said indicators continue to point to a slow and uneven economic recovery.

During March, average hourly wages in Maryland's manufacturing industries increased, and retail sales were somewhat higher than in the same month a year ago, DEED reported.

Even in Western Maryland, which has the highest unemployment in the state, joblessness dropped in March, from 10.6 percent in February to 10.2 percent in March.

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