The unemployment rate in Maryland fell in February to a seasonally adjusted 4.7 percent from 4.9 percent as the state enjoyed a widespread economic expansion.
Economists said the report reflected continuing strength in the state's economy because midwinter is typically slow, and this February was much stronger than last year's.
For example, the average workweek rose to 41.3 hours in February, up from 38.6 hours in the same period of 1994.
"The state is on track for moderate growth," for the next several months at least, said Paul Lande, a regional economist with the Johns Hopkins University's Institute for Policy Studies.
Alex Doyle, president of Micro Machining Inc., a Baltimore machine shop, said he's seeing general optimism in the business community.
"I was just talking to some equipment dealers. They are seeing very positive" signs, he said.
Although hammered by defense cutbacks in the early 1990s, his machine shop has new customers, especially medical instrument makers, and is booming again, he said.
Mr. Doyle has added six employees to bring his staff up to 34 in the last year, and plans to expand further this summer.
"I am very encouraged," he said.