State sees slight job loss in February -- Gazette.Net


Maryland lost 600 jobs in February, but 5,700 more Marylanders were working, according to federal figures released Friday.

The February figures follow January’s numbers where 6,100 lost their jobs, but 8,600 more were employed. Even with the discrepancies, the state’s civilian labor force has remained about the same the past few months, and that likely means many people are finding jobs outside Maryland, such as in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C., economist Daraius Irani said.

“For Maryland residents, it’s relatively easy to drive to another state to work,” said Irani, executive director of the Regional Economic Studies Institute at Towson University.

The state saw its unemployment rate dip to a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent in February, the lowest in more than five years, from 5.8 percent in January. The jobless rate in Montgomery County rose to an unadjusted 4.4 percent in January from 4.1 percent in December.

Frederick County’s rate also rose some to 5.2 percent in January from 4.8 percent in December. February rates for counties were not available.

The residential jobless rate is determined by the federal Labor Department through a different survey than the one that measures payroll jobs in a state. The establishment payroll survey doesn’t count sole proprietorships, those starting their own businesses, people working in a family business or domestic and farm workers.

“It’s two different methodologies,” said Maureen O’Connor, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

January’s job figures for Maryland were revised down from 9,800 positions lost originally. Since February 2013, the state has added 7,600 jobs, including 6,400 in the private sector.

Some states have seen larger employment gains in the past year, including smaller Delaware with an increase of 9,500 and Pennsylvania with a boost of 24,600. Other have seen fewer; Virginia actually lost 1,800 jobs in the past year, while Washington, D.C., only added 1,000 positions.

Construction lost almost 4,000 jobs in Maryland in February, while hotels and restaurants added 5,000. Government added 2,600 positions, mostly in state and local sectors.

Maryland retailers shed 500 jobs in February and are down 2,600 from a year ago. The industry could see further job losses after Fremont, Calif.-based Men’s Wearhouse recently agreed to buy Hampstead-based Jos. A. Bank Clothiers for $1.8 billion. Both clothing retailers have stores in Gaithersburg, Rockville and Frederick, leading to speculation that leaders could close and combine redundant locations.

There also is the question of what will happen to Jos. A. Bank’s headquarters in Carroll County. After Black & Decker Corp., a longtime Baltimore-based toolmaker, was bought by Stanley Works in 2010, it maintained headquarters in Towson as a Stanley subsidiary.

There was still some employee downsizing at Black & Decker’s Maryland operations, Irani noted.

“Companies don’t need two headquarters,” he said.

Another potential impact to Maryland’s work force is spicemaker McCormick & Co., which is based in Sparks in Baltimore County, possibly moving some workers to Pennsylvania. The company employs about 2,400 people in Maryland and is considering a consolidatation of administrative offices in Maryland or southern Pennsylvania, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless, which has regional headquarters in Laurel, is hiring more than 100 full-time retail and customer service positions in Maryland.