The Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) at Towson University is the source for the latest data and analysis on Maryland’s economy. Each month, RESI Chief Economist Dr. Daraius Irani provides an analysis of the latest Maryland unemployment numbers. His analysis ensures business leaders have key information needed to determine how Maryland’s economic status impacts their organization.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its preliminary employment estimates for Maryland in May 2017. Maryland’s unemployment rate fell by a tenth of a percent to 4.2 percent. This is great news as the unemployment rate for the rest of Mid-Atlantic region (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Washington DC) increased by a tenth of a percent, from 4.5 percent to 4.6 percent. Despite the decrease in the unemployment rate, Maryland actually lost jobs last month, losing a total of 1,600 nonfarm jobs. In contrast, the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region held steady, neither losing nor gaining jobs. However, this was mostly due to strong job growth in Washington DC; no other state in the region gained jobs.

Within Maryland, employment grew in four sectors:

  • Mining, Logging, and Construction: growth of 4,800 jobs in May
  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities: growth of 1,600 jobs in May
  • Professional and Business Services: growth of 400 jobs in May
  • Other Services: growth of 300 jobs in May.

Mining, Logging, and Construction is especially notable since employment in this sector declined in the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region by 5,500 jobs. The losses in this sector were especially pronounced in Pennsylvania, which lost 4,200 jobs. Similarly, Maryland’s growth in the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector is in contrast to the decline of 5,600 jobs in neighboring states.

In fact, Maryland’s job numbers differed from the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region more than in other recent jobs reports. Of the ten supersectors comprising the economy, only three sectors had growth trending the same for Maryland and its neighbors. In the other seven sectors, if Maryland gained jobs its neighbors lost jobs and vice versa. For example last month Maryland lost 2,900 Education and Health Services jobs, while the rest of the region gained 7,100 jobs in the sector. This sector had the largest job losses for Maryland and the largest gains for neighboring states. Although this is concerning, Maryland employment for the sector is still 1.8 percent above its May 2016 levels, and employment in the sector has outpaced employment growth in the state. Hopefully, last month’s numbers do not signal a worrying trend.

Only two industries in Maryland have lost employment over the past year: Manufacturing and Financial Activities. Although the decrease in Manufacturing has been happening across the Mid-Atlantic region, employment is shrinking faster in Maryland than in neighboring states. Over the past year, employment decreased by 2.0 percent in Maryland, and by 1.1 percent in neighboring states. Although Maryland is continuing to add jobs in advanced manufacturing, it is not doing so at a fast enough pace to replace lost jobs in traditional manufacturing. Hopefully June’s employment numbers will bring good news to the Manufacturing industry.