Area unemployment rates mixed in May

The unemployment rate rose in Maryland, fell slightly in the District and remained unchanged in Virginia in May, according to a Labor Department report released Friday.

The District’s unemployment rate fell to 9.3 percent in May, down from 9.5 percent the month before. Maryland’s jobless rate inched up to 6.8 percent from 6.7 percent in April, while Virginia’s unemployment rate remained steady at 5.6 percent.

Much of the District’s jobs growth came from the education and health services sectors, which added 3,600 jobs in May.

Maryland was hit particularly hard by cutbacks in government spending. Nearly half of the 7,500 jobs cut in the state were business and professional services positions.

“It is very, very slow growth, but don’t expect that to change anytime soon,” said James Bohnaker, an associate economist for Moody’s Analytics. “As we get closer to the election and the so-called Fiscal Cliff, businesses are going to stay pretty conservative in their hiring.”

Maryland and Virginia’s unemployment rates remained below the national rate of 8.2 percent for May, and the District continued to exceed it.

Nationally, the jobless rate rose in 18 states, fell in 14 states and the District, and remained steady in 18 states.

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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