D.C. unemployment rate dips despite major jobs losses in August


Manufacturing payrolls dropped in both Maryland and Virginia in August, according to new BLS data. (Ty Wright/BLOOMBERG)
September 21, 2012

Unemployment levels rose in Maryland, fell in the District and held steady in Virginia in August, according to a Labor Department report released Friday, reflecting the uneven economic recovery seen across the country.

The District’s jobless rate dropped to 8.8 from 8.9 percent in July, while Maryland’s increased to 7.1 from 7.0 percent the month before. Virginia’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.9 percent.

However, the District actually suffered the largest percentage decrease in total nonfarm employment of any jurisdiction in the country, down 1.5 percent, suggesting that a growing trend across the nation of more job seekers suspending their search is playing out in the nation’s capital.

Conversely, total payrolls in Maryland increased by 20,000 last month.

The unemployment rate is down year-over-year in each of the three jurisdictions. It fell the most in the District — 1.7 points from 10.5 percent in August 2011. Overall, the number of active job seekers in the region increased only slightly from July’s 501,800 to 503,900 in August.


Local unemployment rate goes down. (The Washington Post/Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Construction and manufacturing both fell only slightly in Maryland but took a major hit in Virginia, where construction firms trimmed their payrolls by a collective 2,600 workers and manufacturing firms lost 2,100 jobs. Professional and business services companies, representing one of the other largest sectors in the region, shed roughly 2,000 jobs in both the District and Virginia but added 1,200 in Maryland.

The U.S. jobless rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July. During that period, the unemployment rate increased in 26 states, while falling in a dozen (plus the District) and staying flat in the remaining dozen states.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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