Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Friday sought to cast the state’s rising unemployment rate as “still one of the lowest in the nation,” and said that even against a stagnated recovery, Maryland has still made progress this year in creating jobs.

It was a subdued tone for O’Malley compared with last September, when on the campaign trail he boasted a rate of job creation twice that of other states, and pointed to Maryland’s dropping unemployment rate as evidence that Maryland was leading the way in a nascent national economic recovery.

Of course, the country’s economic picture has worsened since then, and as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, O’Malley is championing President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill as critical to keeping the country from falling back into a full-blown recession.

But O’Malley’s pronouncements on jobs tells only part of Maryland’s muddled economic story of recent months.

While O’Malley touted a net gain of 14,700 jobs created this year in Maryland, the Department of Labor released data Friday showing something else — a loss of 3,017 employed workers in the state since the start of the year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland was one of only seven states and the District to record a statistical increase in unemployment in August. Maryland’s rate inched up to 7.3 percent, and drew closer to the average for Northeast states of 8.2 percent.

The discrepancy stems from the fact that the state and the federal government were highlighting two different sets of federal data. The Maryland number comes from a survey of payrolls to count positions in the state, but Labor’s release was geared to the number of employed people who live in Maryland (and who may work there or elsewhere).

The latter is used most often to compare states’ unemployment rates.By that measure, Maryland’s numbers of employed and unemployed have yo-yoed little over the past two years.

According to preliminary numbers from August, Maryland had 2,757,962 employed workers, or 6,500 more than it had at its worst point during the recession, in January 2010, when unemployment hit 7.7 percent. From a year ago, the change was even smaller, with 382 more in Maryland with jobs than in August 2010.

The number of unemployed, meanwhile, rose more than 3,200 since January to 218,328, but remained nearly 2,000 below the figure from last August of 220,209.

“While Maryland lost jobs this month, we continue to see a positive trend in job creation on the year,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Since January, Maryland has created 14,700 new jobs, a growth level better than most states. But our unemployment rate — still one of the lowest in the nation — shows that we still have far too many Marylanders out of work.

Read the rest of O’Malley’s statement after the jump.

“We can’t play a four corners defense in this fragile recovery. Thirty-one states lost jobs this month. To create jobs and get people back to work, a modern economy requires modern investments. That’s why we’ve made record investments in public school construction, created a hiring tax credit, invested millions in speeding up loans to small businesses, and worked to cut red tape and fast-track development projects. We are going to have bad and good months but we always move forward.

“President Obama understands the urgency of job creation too, and that’s why he’s proposed the American Jobs Act. Many of the items in the Act build on the successful steps we’ve already been taking in Maryland. And it would bring nearly 19,000 jobs to Maryland. I urge Congress to come together and pass this bill now.”