For the first time since December 2008, Washington County’s jobless rate has dropped below 9 percent, dipping to 8.8 percent in October, according to preliminary state figures released Tuesday.
The October decrease is from September’s adjusted rate of 9.6 percent, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation numbers show.
Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said it was good news.
“That’s a significant drop,” he said. “Any time your unemployment rate decreases that’s a good sign that the economy may be starting to improve a little bit.”
However, Troxell said he believed the drop might not be attributed to more jobs, but rather to about 500 fewer people in the work force. He said those people could have, among other things, stopped looking for jobs or gone back to school, rather than finding employment.
In the city of Hagerstown, the unemployment rate dropped from 10.1 percent in September to 9.4 percent in October, according to the DLLR website.
Despite the drop in the county’s unemployment rate, it remained higher than the state figure, which listed a non-seasonably adjusted rate of 6.8 percent for October and an adjusted rate of 7.2 percent.
Both the county and state rates were lower than the national rate of 9 percent for October.
In December 2008, Washington County’s unemployment rate was at 7.5 percent. A month later, in January 2009, the county’s rate had climbed to 9.2 percent. It rose to a high of 11.9 percent in February 2010.
In Washington County, 5,835 members of the labor force were without jobs in October, according to the state website. That number was down from 6,420 unemployed workers in September.
According to the state website, 66,746 people were in the labor force in September, compared to 66,200 in October.
On a positive note, Citi absorbed hundreds of jobs at its facility near Hagerstown with workers who were laid off from Citi in Frederick County, Troxell said. That migration took place over the last year.
He said Dynamark Security, a security monitoring business on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown, created 35 jobs, and Parker Plastics off Western Maryland Parkway added another six or seven jobs.
Troxell said he hoped that the unemployment rate might drop even further with the addition of retail jobs during the Christmas holiday.
“I hope this trend of decreasing unemployment continues through the holidays, and everyone looking for a job can find one,” he said.
Washington County jobless rate drops