State job­less rate held steady in Oct.

Un­em­ploy­ment held to 4.2 per­cent last month; 700 jobs were added

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Lor­raine Mirabella lor­raine.mirabella@balt­sun.com

Mary­land’s job­less rate held steady in Oc­to­ber at 4.2 per­cent, as the state added just 700 jobs since Septem­ber, the U.S. La­bor Depart­ment said Fri­day.

The num­bers re­flected a slow­down in the state’s job growth that has per­sisted over the past three to six months, with weak­nesses in ar­eas such as con­struc­tion, trans­porta­tion, and leisure and hos­pi­tal­ity. But the pre­lim­i­nary Oc­to­ber data from the fed­eral Bureau of La­bor Statis­tics showed strength in health care and ed­u­ca­tion.

Un­em­ploy­ment is also down sig­nif­i­cantly from the year-ago rate of 5 per­cent.

The num­bers paint a mixed pic­ture of Mary­land’s la­bor mar­ket, said R. An­drew Bauer, a se­nior econ­o­mist for the Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of Rich­mond. He cited Mary­land’s “siz­able” in­crease of 10,000 more peo­ple in the la­bor mar­ket in Oc­to­ber.

“It’s a very large in­crease in the la­bor force, and peo­ple are find­ing jobs,” a trend that has con­tin­ued for the past year while the num­ber of un­em­ployed has de­creased, Bauer said.

But the month-over-month growth of 700 jobs is rel­a­tively flat and broad based.

Mary­land’s man­u­fac­tur­ing su­per sec­tor added 900 jobs in durable goods, while the pro­fes­sional and busi­ness ser­vices su­per sec­tor gained 2,600 jobs, the statis­tics show. The ed­u­ca­tion and health ser­vices su­per sec­tor gained 2,500 jobs.

“I’m not too con­cerned be­cause I think the gen­eral di­rec­tion of the na­tional and state econ­omy is quite solid,” and be­cause busi­nesses haven’t ap­peared re­luc­tant to hire, Bauer said.

The state lost jobs in such sec­tors as con­struc­tion, trade, trans­porta­tion and util­i­ties, leisure and hos­pi­tal­ity, and fi­nan­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We­have con­tin­ued growth in the state in some of the ar­eas where we have strength,” such as health care and ed­u­ca­tion, said Daraius Irani, chief econ­o­mist at the Re­gional Eco­nomic Stud­ies In­sti­tute at Tow­son Univer­sity.

But un­cer­tainty about the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald J. Trump, global chal­lenges and con­sumer spend­ing likely will slow job growth for the next two years, he said.

Econ­o­mists said it’s dif­fi­cult to pre­dict the im­pact of Trump’s pres­i­dency on hir­ing be­cause of ques­tions about how and whether pro­posed poli­cies will be im­ple- mented.

“For a lot of busi­nesses, un­cer­tainty [dur­ing the elec­tion] has been a fac­tor and had ma­te­rial im­pact on risk tak­ing and how they run their busi­ness,” said Bauer, adding that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion would “cre­ate or re­duce un­cer­tainty” in vary­ing de­grees for dif­fer­ent busi­nesses.

Mary­land’s un­em­ploy­ment rate is well be­low the na­tion’s, which dipped to 4.9 per­cent in Oc­to­ber from 5 per­cent the pre­vi­ous month. Mary­land was among a dozen states with sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant un­em­ploy­ment rate changes com­pared with Oc­to­ber 2015.

Em­ploy­ers in the state have added 66,600 jobs since Jan­uary 2015.

On Thurs­day, Mor­gan Stan­ley an­nounced plans to hire 800 more peo­ple over four years and open a sec­ond of­fice in Baltimore.

RDI Wire & Cable So­lu­tions Inc., a Sal­is­bury man­u­fac­turer of wire and cable prod­ucts, plans to more than triple its 20-per­son work force to about 70 over the next three years as it bids on long-term aero­space and de­fense con­tracts.

TeamLogic IT, a fran­chise op­er­a­tion that man­ages in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ser­vices for small and medium-sized busi­nesses, opened cen­ters last week in El­li­cott City and Hanover. It ex­pects to hire up to six peo­ple early next year in jobs such as sys­tems en­gi­neer­ing and sales, said Su­nil Raina, pres­i­dent and owner the lo­cal fran­chises

“We are seeing a lot of growth in the IT space, in the in­ter­net of things, in cloud com­put­ing and stor­age and mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions, where you need to con­nect com­put­ers to tablets and peo­ple in the field,” Raina said. “We are here for the long term.”

Augie Chi­asera, pres­i­dent of the Greater Baltimore and Ch­e­sa­peake mar­kets for M&T Bank, said the Oc­to­ber em­ploy­ment num­bers con­firm what he has seen within his own busi­ness — strong ac­tiv­ity among health care com­pa­nies that are “start­ing, and grow­ing and hir­ing, and look­ing for fi­nanc­ing to sup­port that growth.”

De­mand has been strong for per­ma­nent and tem­po­rary work­ers in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, ac­count­ing, fi­nance and health care, with es­pe­cially strong ac­tiv­ity ear­lier in the year, said Joe Gon­za­les, re­gional vice pres­i­dent in Mary­land for em­ploy­ment place­ment firm Robert Half.

Though de­mand has slowed some­what, prospec­tive em­ploy­ees are con­fi­dent about find­ing new jobs and typ­i­cally get mul­ti­ple of­fers, more than in the past, he said.

“What we’re hear­ing is com­pa­nies are still in­ter­ested in hir­ing,” Gon­za­les said. “There are a lot of jobs that need to be filled. Peo­ple are meet­ing with can­di­dates and in many cases there are good in­creases in salaries from one op­por­tu­nity to an­other.”

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