Rate in Maryland fell slightly in Aug. to its lowest level in nearly 4 years U.S. jobless rate hit four-year low in Sept.

Maryland's unemployment rate inched downward in August, but not by as much as the national figure, the state Department of Economic and Employment Development reported yesterday.

Unemployment in Maryland has been generally declining since last fall, and the drop reported yesterday -- from 5.2 percent in July to 5.1 percent in August -- brought it to the lowest level in about four years.


The national unemployment rate dropped from 6.2 percent in July to 5.9 percent in August, by DEED's way of calculating, which is not seasonally adjusted and therefore differs

from the figures usually published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


"The unemployment rate falling to its lowest level in nearly four years, coupled with increases in manufacturing wages, retail sales, new car registrations and housing permits demonstrates that the state's economy is gaining strength," Mark L. Wasserman, DEED secretary, said in announcing the figures.

Gaining strength, but marginally, private economists say.

For the 12 months that ended Aug. 31, Maryland's 0.68-percent growth in jobs ranked 46th among the 50 states and was a fraction of the national job growth of about 3 percent, according to MBG Information Services, a Washington consultancy that tracks the state's economy.

The state's unemployment rate was 0.9 percent lower in August than in the same month a year ago.

Baltimore continued to have the state's highest unemployment rate at 9.4 percent, down 0.1 percent from July and down 1.5 points from August 1993. Montgomery County continued to have the lowest at 2.9 percent, the same as in July and down 0.4 percent from August of last year.