While joblessness in Maryland is soaring, Montgomery and Prince George's counties continue to have the lowest unemployment rates in the state.
In fact, Montgomery County actually showed a slight increase in the number of jobs held by its residents between October and November.
The State of Maryland, according to November figures, posted its worst month in five years: 7.9 percent of its civilian labor force was out of work. This represented an estimated 169,311 out of 2.1 million workers.
The national unemployment rate in November also was 7.9 percent. Maryland traditionally has had a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country. October unemployment in Maryland was 7.4 percent.
December statistics are expected to show state unemployment at 8 percent or more, equaling the highest rate since current record-keeping methods were instituted in 1970, according to Pat Arnold, director of research for the Maryland Employment Security Administration.
Despite federal layoffs and the recession, the job market in Montgomery and Prince George's counties has remained relatively stable, state officials said.They predict unemployment in the suburban counties will rise somewhat this year, however, as the number of federal jobs continues to dwindle and as federal contracts dry up for some of the consulting firms in Montgomery County.
In November, Montgomery had the smallest percentage of residents in the state out of work--an estimated 12,100 people or 3.8 percent of the county work force of 333,800. This represented a slight decrease in unemployment from October, when 3.9 percent were out of work. In November 1980, Montgomery had 3.1 percent unemployed compared to a statewide unemployment rate of 6.1 percent.
Prince George's County had an estimated 22,300 unemployed this past November, or 5.7 percent of its work force of 391,500, a figure that also has remained relatively stable, says Arnold.
The number of federal jobs held by Maryland residents increased marginally in November, up 200 to an estimated total of 130,700, according to preliminary state figures. But the increase was considered insignificant, because 3,100 federal jobs disappeared in October and because the Reagan administration hopes to trim even more employes from the federal payroll in coming months.
Nationally, while administration layoffs totaled 4,727 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, an additional 7,118 have been laid off in the past three months and at least another 5,000 federal jobs will be abolished this spring and summer, according to a recent congressional survey. A large but unspecified number of those jobs are in the Washington area.
While unemployment rates in Maryland and most states have been rising steadily, they have been dropping all summer and fall in the District, an anomaly District officials said they cannot explain, except that D.C. unemployment figures seem to lag behind national rates.
In October--the latest District statistics--25,000 District residents were out of work, or 8.5 percent of the city's work force of 292,000, according to District labor economist Lawrence Thurston. The rate was 9.5 percent in September, 10 percent in August and 10.2 percent in July.
"The current data seems to be painting a rosy picture, but if past history proves correct, as the nation pulls out of the recession, District unemployment will be increasing," said Thurston. This is what happened in the recessions of the 1970s, he said, when District unemployment dropped as national unemployment rose and then the rates reversed.
In Northern Virginia, the jobless rate in October was 3.7 percent, comparable to that in Montgomery County.