By Raymund Lee Flandez
ANNAPOLIS – Maryland’s July unemployment rate tied the jobless ratefor the same time last year, a signal the state’s economy is continuingits recovery.
July’s 4.2 percent unemployment rate declined .2-percentage pointsfrom June’s 4.4 percent, the state reported Friday.
It marks the first time this year that the rate dropped low enough totie the jobless rate for the same period in 2001.
The jobless rate has slipped steadily since March, when it was 5.2 percent, the highest this year. The decline points to an improvement inthe state’s labor market, despite the lingering effects of lastSeptember’s terrorist attacks and the recession of 2001.
“While much of the economic news we have been hearing is doom andgloom, a record number of Marylanders were employed during July,” Gov.Parris Glendening said in a statement.
Although the state’s July rate stayed the same for the past two years,the nation’s unemployment rate rose 1.3 percent over the same period.
“(This) is consistent with the notion that Maryland has held up better during the recession and subsequent mild recovery,” said Anirban Basu, asenior economist for RESI, a consulting arm of Towson University.
Maryland’s unemployment rate continues to be lower than the nationalrate of 5.9 percent.
About 130,000 Marylanders were out of work in June. Service and construction industries, predominantly, reduced that number by hiring anet of 5,346 people in July.
“The (state) economy is moving in the right direction,” said Pradeep Ganguli, chief economist for the state department of business and economic development. “It doesn’t mean that the economic weakness is over,however. It does mean that the economic conditions are improving.”
July also set a record for the most people with jobs, about 2.8million workers, in the state this year and for the month alone.
Unemployment figures for this year are subject to change for final adjustments based on a household survey conducted by the Census Bureau.