Unemployment rate dips to 3.9 percent in August


Carroll County's unemployment figures dropped from 4.6 percent in July to 3.9 percent in August, which was the second largest decrease in the Baltimore metropolitan region, state officials said Friday.

Harford County had the biggest dip, dropping from 6.5 percent in July to 5.4 percent in August. The rest of the seven-county region remained relatively stable, either dropping one-tenth of a percent, remaining the same or rising one tenth.

Statewide, the figure dropped from 5.2 percent in July to 5.1 percent in August, the lowest level of unemployment since September 1990, said Marco Merrick, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.

"That was when we were right on the threshold of the recession," Mr. Merrick said.

Carroll County's drop, which gave it the lowest level of unemployment in the Baltimore region, can be attributed to companies recalling many employees who had been on temporary layoffs, he said.

Also, the civilian labor force was smaller in August since many students quit their summer jobs to return to school, Mr. Merrick said.

The civilian labor force, which dropped in Carroll County from 69,347 people in July to 68,599 people in August, is the number of people employed plus the number of people actively looking for work.

"The greatest influx we see of workers is in May, June and July," Mr. Merrick said. "They are students, which contributes to the expansion in the labor force.

"Then, we see a number of individual job seekers that found employment go back to school in August."

Mr. Merrick said that this August, the civilian labor force across the state did not drop as much as in previous years. In July, 2,735,570 people were in the force, compared to 2,712,594 in August.

However, the number of people collecting unemployment dropped -- from 143,388 in July to 138,024 in August -- blunting the effect of a larger than usual labor force, he said.

The number of people employed also dropped, from 2,592,182 in July to 2,574,570 in August.

"That bodes well for employment gains," Mr. Merrick said. "Other favorable signs were an increase of auto registrations, retail sales are up and there is improvement in new housing starts, more weekly hours and increased hourly earnings."

Carroll's unemployment also dropped from 3,171 people collecting benefits in July to 2,682 people in August. Employment also decreased from 66,176 people employed in July to 65,917 in August.

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