Md. job growth slows in June


Job growth continued to slow in Maryland last month, with the state losing jobs in June and the unemployment rate creeping up.

Maryland lost 2,100 jobs in June, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted figures released yesterday by the U.S. Labor Department. The state unemployment rate reached 4 percent, up from 3.8 percent in May and 3.5 percent in April.

"The pace of job growth in Maryland is slowing, as it is nationally," said Anirban Basu, head of Sage Policy Group, an economic consulting firm in Baltimore. "Maryland is affected by the same forces as the balance of the nation, including higher energy prices, higher interest rates and a slowing housing market."

Maryland's unemployment rate remains well below the national unemployment rate of 4.6 percent.

Though the state lost jobs in June, it has added 12,300 jobs so far this year and 29,300 jobs over the 12 months ending in June, a 1.1 percent increase.

Still, the year-over-year numbers reflect softening employment growth, said John Hopkins, associate director for applied economics at RESI, Towson University's research and consulting arm.

"That's the slowest job growth we've recorded since August 2005," Hopkins said.

Manufacturing lost 2,100 jobs over the 12-month period ending in June.

Professional and business services, typically a strong sector in Maryland's economy, added 9,800 jobs over the 12-month period ending in June.

Another traditionally strong industry, leisure and hospitality, added 3,500 jobs over the 12-month period. Two-thirds of that industry is made up of restaurants, Basu said, and much of the growth can be attributed to those businesses.

"There are a lot of new restaurants opening up, as one expects in a state that continues to add population, including high-income households," Basu said.

But these traditionally strong sectors have been growing at a slower pace, Hopkins said.

Professional and business services, for instance, have averaged between 3 percent and 4 percent year-over-year growth. In June, that industry had 2.6 percent growth for the 12-month period.

Still, Renee Whalen, regional vice president in the Baltimore-Washington area for Robert Half International, a professional staffing service, said her firm has seen steady job growth over the last three to four quarters. Six percent of the Baltimore area's chief financial officers anticipate adding staff in the third quarter, while 3 percent foresee a staff reduction, according to the firm's most recent financial hiring index, which surveys 200 CFOs in the area.

"It's actually looking optimistic when it comes to accounting and financial positions," Whalen said.

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