Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning


Labor Force and Industry Developments - Maryland Monthly Labor Review - March 2009


Marylandís labor market continued to show signs of softening in March. The Stateís seasonally adjusted unemployment rate inched upward by one tenth of a percentage point from Februaryís revised rate of 6.8 percent to a preliminary rate of 6.9 percent in March. The movement in Marylandís unemployment rate was, however, relatively muted compared to that of the nation which showed joblessness climbing from 8.1 percent in February to 8.5 percent in March.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates March 2008 through March 2009
Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
Maryland and US
March 2008 through March 2009
Mar 08 3.8% 5.1%
Apr 4.0% 5.0%
May 4.1% 5.5%
June 4.3% 5.6%
July 4.4% 5.8%
Aug 4.5% 6.2%
Sept 4.6% 6.2%
Oct 4.8% 6.6%
Nov 5.1% 6.8%
Dec 5.4% 7.2%
Jan 09 6.2% 7.6%
Feb 6.8% 8.1%
Mar 6.9% 8.5%

While, on the surface, labor market conditions appeared relatively low key during March, the market continued to tighten as evidenced by the number of jobseekers who opted to discontinue their search Ė a movement countering the trend of prior years. During March, just over 5,800 jobseekers exited the job market Ė a departure which, in fact, helped to minimize the impact of monthly employment declines on the statewide unemployment rolls.

While unemployment was little changed over-the-month, Marylandís businesses remained on shaky ground, visibly impacted by cutbacks in consumer spending and business investment. According to Marylandís business establishment survey, the number of jobs on industry payrolls, following seasonal adjustment, declined by 10,200 over-the-month. Marchís job reduction, the largest decline for the month since 1993, brings the year-to-date job loss to just over 21,000 jobs. Declines during March were broad-based, shared by each of the major private sector industry groups with the exception of education and health services. Long-term declines continued in construction and the professional and business services sector, which began to backslide in February, experienced yet another month of curtailment. About eight out of every ten jobs lost during March resulted from layoff activity reported in these two business sectors.

The downturn in Marylandís job market followed on the heels of national reports which showed business payrolls falling by 633,000 jobs during March. Although it appears as if the economic clouds have fanned out in Maryland over recent months, Marylandís job market remains in somewhat of a better place than that of the nation. Significant erosion has occurred in the nationís industrial job base since last March, with a decline of 3.5% translating into a loss of nearly 4.8 million jobs. In Maryland, while job loss has escalated, the 2.2% rate of decline over the past year remains considerably below that of the nation.

At the local level, unadjusted unemployment rates either declined or held steady in all jurisdictions with the exception of Washington County where an increase in the number of jobseekers caused unemployment to rise by 0.5 percentage points over-the-month to 10.5 percent in March. Some of the largest unemployment declines were reported in the Shore counties. Kent Countyís rate dropped by 0.8 percentage points, Worcesterís by 0.7 percentage points and Somersetís by 0.6 percentage points. Even with these declines, unemployment rates in these and all other jurisdictions across the state remained well above year ago averages.

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