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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Maryland Job Outlook

Although Maryland’s jobless rate remains significantly below the national average of 5.5 percent, it climbed to the highest it’s been in the last 2 ½ years in May. In April only 3.6 percent of the state’s population was collecting unemployment benefits, but in May it increased to 4 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the only state that did not experience at least a small rise in joblessness was Louisiana.

Despite rising unemployment, the area’s economy continued to fair better than elsewhere in the nation. Approximately 1,100 Maryland jobs were created in the month of May, according to preliminary statistics after seasonal adjustments. Andy Bauer, regional economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Baltimore office, said this figure shows decent job growth.

Still, there were not enough jobs created to provide employment to the 13,000 people that entered the state’s workforce or to make up for the 2,6000 jobs lost in April. Bauer believes that the drastic increase in the number of individuals looking for employment was caused, in part, by a large group of college students entering the workforce. If this does not end up being the case then he believes something may have go wrong when the government adjusted the statistical information in hopes of accounting for seasonal changes. At this time, it is believed that May’s influx of jobseekers is the largest increase in the workforce in the last 12 years.

Either way, Bauer said that Maryland job growth and unemployment statistics remain positive when one considers that employers are currently challenged by the slump in the housing market, credit problems and high gas prices. “We’re a strong service state, and the service industries are still doing pretty good except for the finance industries related to the housing market,” he said.

Anirban Basu, chief executive of Baltimore economic and policy consulting firm Sage Policy Group, is less optimistic. “I would expect the nation’s unemployment rate to b e roughly 6 percent by year-end and that Maryland’s unemployment rate would be in the range of 4.5 to 5 percent.”

Overall the state’s employers created 26,800 new jobs during the last 12 months. The industry that was responsible for the largest gains in employment was education and health services, which generated 11,400 jobs. Other industries that were responsible for new positions included professional and business services, which added 9,400 jobs, and leisure and hospitality was responsible for 5,400 new positions.

Problems with the housing market and credit crisis caused financial activities employers eliminate 2,300 jobs in the last year. These issues also effected the construction industry, which cut 1,800 positions. Manufacturers did away the most jobs, cutting approximately 3,700 positions during the last 12 months.

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