News Column

Unemployment Drops in September

Oct. 29, 2012

Ed Waters Jr.

While the area waits for what could be a massive storm, good news came from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Unemployment rates for both Frederick County and Frederick city dropped in September.

The county rate fell to 5.4 percent, down from 5.8 percent in August and 6.0 percent in September 2011. The 5.4 percent is the lowest since December 2011, when it was 5.4 percent.

Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young said the numbers are heading in the right direction.

"There are some factors we can't control, but we (the county) are pro-business. We are hearing about activity from major players about leasing space," Young said in a telephone interview, of potential business coming to the county, which would mean jobs.

Frederick County Business Development and Retention understands that many factors -- housing, commercial vacancies, business expansions and job growth, etc. -- make up the whole picture of the county's economic vitality, wrote Helen Riddle, director of the county economic development office, in an email. --

"We are pleased that the rate has gone down from August and our staff continues to be busy working with businesses to locate in the county or expand their current Frederick location," she wrote.

"While unemployment rates fluctuate, I'm glad that in Frederick County they have been coming down," said Richard Griffin, director of economic development for the city of Frederick, in an interview Friday.

Griffin, acting president of the Fort Detrick Alliance, was at the SMART Proc event where companies were networking to find out about potential federal government contracts.

In comparison, the September jobless rate in Montgomery County was 4.9 percent; Carroll County, 5.8 percent and Washington County, 8.6 percent.

In Frederick city, the September rate was 5.8 percent, down from 6.2 percent in August.

In comparison, Hagerstown's September jobless rate was 10.1 percent; Gaithersburg, 5.0 percent and Rockville, 4.8 percent.

Retailers are gearing up for the holiday season, according to a report by the National Retailers Association.

The association said it anticipates hiring of between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers in its member stores through the holiday season. That is about the same as last year's holiday season, the retailers group said in a news release.

About 48 percent of annual sales at most retailers occurs during the holiday season. The retailers group said it expects a sales increase of 4.1 percent from 2011, the same percent as it saw from 2010 to 2011.

The group's members reported different outlooks. Macy's said it expects to hire 80,000 holiday workers, up 2.5 percent from last year. Kohl's said it will hire 52,700 workers at its 1,146 stores, up 10 percent from last year. Most Kohl's stores have about 40 employees.

Target is taking a more cautious approach. The retailer said it will hire 80,000 to 90,000 seasonal workers, down from 92,000 last year.

The jobs picture has become a hot political issue. Karen Glenn Hood, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, emailed a news release from the state agency on the issue.

Hood said political campaigns have been using inaccurate information about Maryland's job creation.

"The fact is that Maryland has created 13,300 jobs so far in 2012 and 25,500 jobs over the past 12 months. Last month, Maryland created 9,800 new jobs at the seventh-fastest rate in the nation. Nearly all of those jobs -- 98 percent -- were created by our private sector businesses," Hood wrote in the email.--

"Maryland continues to make progress toward recovery," said Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard Howie in a news release last week. Maryland's unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, down from 7.0 percent in August, according to DLLR.

In comparison, the September unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was 8.2 percent; in West Virginia, 7.6 percent, and in Virginia, 5.9 percent.



Source: (c)2012 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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