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July unemployment: D.C. rate falls to 9.8%; Md. and Va. stay around 7%

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By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Unemployment dropped slightly in the District in July, while jobless rates in Maryland and Virginia held steady at well below the national average, according to government data released Friday.

Figures from the 48 other states, however, suggest that job growth has slowed, mirroring economic data showing that the recovery has stalled.

The unemployment rate in the District, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said dropped from 10 percent in June to 9.8 percent in July, remains above the national average of 9.5 percent. A year ago, the jobless rate in the District was 10.4 percent.

Unemployment rates last month remained at 7.1 percent in Maryland and 7 percent in Virginia, according to the data. Both numbers are largely unchanged from July of last year.

Overall, jobless rates in July fell in 18 states and the District, rose in 14 states and stayed the same in 18 states. Each month since May, unemployment rates dropped in more than 30 states; the July numbers indicate that employers have stopped hiring. Indeed, a recent spike in new weekly jobless claims filed nationally shows that employers are back to making layoffs because of the economy's uncertain future.

Still, some analysts remained positive.

Job market improvement "is slow, but it's still moving in the right direction," Steve Cochrane, an economist at Moody's Analytics, told the Associated Press.

July job growth was helped by some isolated events. For example, in Michigan, General Motors did not implement its usual summer assembly-line shutdown, kept producing new vehicles and avoided layoffs.

For the third straight month, Nevada had the nation's highest unemployment rate, at 14.3 percent; it was one of the "sand states" hit hardest by the housing crash. Michigan came in at No. 2 with 13.1 percent. And California, struggling with budget deficit problems, came in third with a rate of 12.3 percent.

North Dakota continued to be the most-employed state, with a jobless rate of 3.6 percent. South Dakota was second at 4.4 percent. The Dakotas' neighbor to the south, Nebraska, came in at 4.7 percent. Unemployment has been a stranger to parts of the Upper Plains during the economic downturn.


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