February’s jobs report showed that between January and February, Maryland lost 3,200 Total Nonfarm jobs, including a decrease of 3,500 Total Private jobs and a gain of 300 Government jobs. The greatest losses were in the Professional and Business Services supersector with a decrease of 4,800 jobs, while Trade, Transportation, and Utilities gained 1,700 jobs and Mining, Logging, and Construction gained 1,500 jobs. The unemployment rate for Maryland is 4.2%, up slightly from 4.1% last month. This increase may be partially impacted by the slightly-greater labor force of 2,600 additional workers.
Neighboring states in the Mid-Atlantic region (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.) added a combined net 4,000 jobs in February, including gains of 5,500 Total Private jobs and a loss of 1,500 Government jobs. The greatest gains were in the Mining, Logging, and Construction supersector which gained 7,800 jobs, and Leisure and Hospitality which added 5,500 positions. The most-significant losses were in Government, losing 1,800 positions. Neighboring states’ unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.3% in February, from a rate of 4.4% in January.
How do changes in the labor force impact the unemployment rate?
The unemployment rate is calculated as the proportion of unemployed workers in the total labor force. To be included in the labor force, one must categorized as employed or unemployed. To be categorized as unemployed, an individual must be available to work, be actively seeking work within the past four weeks, and not currently have a job. This classification is significant—if an individual stops looking for work because of dim prospects, they are no longer counted in the labor force. If the total labor force decreases because these discouraged workers are leaving the job market, the unemployment rate may go down. Conversely, if job prospects look more promising, discouraged workers may re-enter the job market and increase the unemployment rate. This is why it’s important to not only look at the unemployment rate, but also changes in the total labor force.
To make more sense of what’s happening with Maryland’s employment numbers, we’ve embedded our new tool: the Mid-Atlantic Regional Employment Workbook. This dashboard allows you to examine 29 different industries and see how employment is varying in Maryland as well as four other states in the Mid-Atlantic region. To use the dashboard select a sector of the economy that interests you from the dropdown at the top. When you change the sector of interest, the map and five line graphs will update to reflect historical data for that industry. Want to know how employment changed in the sector last month? Hover over each state in the map for percentage changes. Or hover over the line graphs to get more detailed information on the number of employees each month since January 2016 by state.
About the Authors
Daraius Irani, PhD
Daraius Irani, Ph.D. serves as vice president of Innovation and Applied Research. He fosters the development of partnerships between business, government, and education that contributes to the economic vitality of our region. He also serves as chief economist at the Regional Economic Studies Institute and is often called on by state agencies, private companies, and local governments to provide insight on proposed policies, development, and economic forecasting. With a passion for all things economic, Daraius’ posts focus on a wide range of topics from immigration to bicycling. Read Daraius’ Posts
Katie Menking is a research associate for the Regional Economic Studies Institute. She has numerous roles, including conducting research for potential and current projects, primary and secondary data collection and analysis, and report writing and editing. Read Katie’s Posts