Job Growth, Employment Decline Add Up to a Stagnant 'Recovery' in Md.


WASHINGTON (October 22, 2010)—More Marylanders entered the workforce last month, causing both unemployment and employment to rise, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday.

The rate of unemployment in Maryland last month reached its highest point since April, 7.5 percent, up from 7.3 percent in August. And 4,200 more people were unemployed last month than in the same month of 2009.

But there were 23,600 more jobs in Maryland this September than there were in September 2009, representing a growth of 0.9 percent.

The discrepancy is caused by the number of people in the labor force in Maryland, which is the number of people 16 years and older, working or looking for a job during the last four weeks. Those no longer seeking employment are not included.

In addition, employment and unemployment numbers are based on different surveys, which also helps to account for inconsistencies.

Fewer people are in the labor force now than in September 2009, and more of those are unemployed. While it's clear that Maryland is seeing some job growth, it is insufficient to support the number of people entering or re-entering the labor force.

"In this recovery, in most states or in the U.S. overall, what we're seeing is job growth that's so slow that it's not bringing unemployment down," said Kai Filion, policy analyst for the Economic Policy Institute. In order to support the new people entering the workforce, "you need to have job growth of a certain rate, and we're not at that rate," he said.

Almost 8,000 Marylanders entered the labor force in September. About half didn't find jobs, causing the number of unemployed people to rise by 4,600, or .2 percentage points from August. However, 4,800 jobs were added last month.

"This is what a jobless recovery looks like," said Neil Bergsman, director of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute. "People are returning to the labor force, but the number of jobs are not growing fast enough to do any more than just keep the unemployment rate stable - or for the last couple months make it go up."

It is not surprising that in the race for governor, where jobs are considered the top issue, Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Gov. Robert Ehrlich each emphasized the opposing aspects of the report.

O'Malley touted the 4,800 jobs added, and the growth in Maryland compared to the lack of growth nationally, in his statement about the report.

"As this chart indicates, even as economic trends decline nationally, Maryland continues to create jobs better than the rest of the nation," O'Malley said in a statement.

Ehrlich said in his statement that the report is "unwelcome news that shows our unemployment rate is bad and getting worse." He also pointed out that Maryland's unemployment has doubled in the last four years while O'Malley was governor.

For all the back-and-forth, however, the report basically shows that Maryland's job situation isn't much different than it was a year ago.

"Basically, since this time last year, these unemployment statistics have moved sideways," Bergsman said.

Filion agreed: "Things aren't really changing, but for people who are unemployed that's really bad."

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