Maryland's unemployment rate held steady in November at 4.9 percent, as a small drop in the number of jobs was more than offset by a seasonal dip in the number of people in the work force.
The state continues to have a lower unemployment rate than the 5.3 percent national average, but not by as wide a margin as it did when key local industries such as construction and defense contracting boomed during the 1980s, said Michael A. Conte, director of the Regional Economic Studies Program at the University of Baltimore.
He said the state economy has posted unemployment rates that consistently run about half a point below the national average, but that Maryland's unemployment regularly was 1.5 percentage points lower than the U.S. figure during the late 1980s.
"It's obviously a new era, and this is in keeping with that," Mr. Conte said. "This is in line with our forecast of stable, nondeclining unemployment rate for the foreseeable future for the state of Maryland."
As usual, the lowest unemployment rates were in Maryland's Washington suburbs, where they ranged from 2.7 percent in Montgomery County to 4.4 percent in Prince George's. The rate for the five Maryland counties in the Washington area, as it is classified by the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, was 3.5 percent.
Metropolitan Baltimore unemployment was 5.6 percent in November, dragged down by the 8.2 percent rate in Baltimore City. But Baltimore's rate showed the biggest improvement during the month, falling from October's 9.3 percent on the strength of a decline of abut 5,000 workers in its 320,000-person labor force.
"I think Baltimore City is having a minor rebound," Mr. Conte said, pointing to the relative firmness of the city's housing market in recent months and increasing commercial construction.