Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning


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


Following three months of relative stability, Maryland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate advanced by 0.4 percentage points over-the-month to 7.2 percent – its highest level since 1983. Rising unemployment is not uncommon at this time of year; however, increases of this magnitude are quite atypical. Nationally, unemployment also rose to a quarter century high, increasing from 8.9 percent in April to 9.4 percent in May.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates - Maryland and US May 2008 through May 2009
Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
Maryland and US
May 2008 through May 2009
May 08 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%
Apr 6.8% 8.9%
May 7.2% 9.4%

While recent reports show that the pace of economic contraction appears to be slowing and the downturn in some industries is showing signs of bottoming out, the general consensus is that labor market conditions will continue to be affected by a series of ups and downs before economic equilibrium can be achieved and recovery begins.  May’s unemployment upturn can best be viewed as one of the economic bumps which are likely to reoccur in the months ahead.

Nearly 25,000 Marylanders lost their jobs during May – the second largest one-month employment drop in Maryland since the recession began in December 2007. While a portion of this decline was absorbed by the exodus of workers from the job market, the statewide unemployment rolls expanded by just over 12,800 persons to reach a level of 212,494 in May. A year ago unemployment stood at 122,836, or 4.1 percent of the labor force.

Maryland’s industrial payroll activity provided a glimmer of hope for jobseekers during May, with hiring resulting in a seasonally adjusted gain of 2,500 jobs over-the-month. Administrative and support services, a sector which has consistently declined since January, headed back up in May, and, along with leisure and hospitality industries, provided the primary sources of  the monthly upturn.  Construction, while not among the job contributors in May, was little changed in May – a welcome respite in an industry which has been battered by the economic downturn, losing an average of 5,000 per month in 2009 alone.

Jobseekers were faced with a challenging market in May. Seasonal opportunities were fewer and competition was heightened as layoffs and business closures continued to mount. Non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates rose over-the-month in twenty of the state’s twenty-four local jurisdictions. Dorchester County’s rate climbed higher on the double-digit scale to reach a statewide high of 11.3 percent in May. Unemployment rates in both Baltimore City and Washington County also broke the 10.0 percent mark, rising to 10.4 percent and 10.1 percent respectively. Of the three counties reporting unemployment declines, Worcester’s was the most improved, dropping by just over 2 full percentage points to 9.4 percent. In Worcester, the number of employed rose by just over 2,400 persons – an increase that helped to absorb a seasonal influx of jobseekers and, at the same time, to lower the number of unemployed.

Return to the top of the page