Eye on the Economy: March 2017

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. RESI on the Economy is your source for the latest data and analysis of Maryland’s economy and employment numbers.


On Monday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its preliminary January 2017 employment numbers for Maryland. In January, Maryland’s unemployment rate remained at 4.2 percent, the same rate since August 2016. Maryland continues to have a lower unemployment rate than the nation as a whole, which had a 4.8 percent unemployment rate in January. Maryland’s economy added 6,700 nonfarm jobs in January and the unemployment rate has remained stable due in large part to more people entering the workforce. The increase in total employment is largely due to an increase in private nonfarm jobs; Maryland added 7,500 private nonfarm jobs in January and lost about 800 government jobs.

January Highs

Maryland had several industries grow during January, but none grew more than Retail Trade, which added 6,500 jobs, a 2.2 percent increase from the sector’s December numbers. The Accommodation and Food Services industry added the second-most jobs, adding 5,900 jobs in January. Over the past year, this industry has gained 6,800 jobs in Maryland, second only to Health Care and Social Assistance which added 8,700 jobs over the past year. The Mining, Logging, and Construction industry gained 1,800 jobs in January, and much of this was due to increases in Construction. This is noteworthy as we usually expect Construction to be slower in the winter months.

The Winter Blues

Despite this growth, some sectors of the economy still lost jobs. Maryland lost 800 Government jobs in January. Although the state added roughly 1,000 Federal Government jobs, the state lost 1,200 State Government and 600 Local Government jobs. With a hiring freeze instituted under the new administration, the total number of Maryland residents employed in Government is likely to continue to decline in the future. The Transportation and Utilities sector had the largest decrease in employment in January, losing 4,000 jobs. Despite this 4.3 percent decline, the industry has still gained 1,000 jobs from its January 2016 total one year ago. Although not as drastic, the Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services industry lost 2,700 jobs in January, a 1.6 percent decline. As with Transportation and Utilities, however, the industry has still gained 1,700 jobs over the past year

Hopefully the February 2017 employment numbers, scheduled to be released on March 24 will continue to show steady growth and improvement for the state. Stay tuned!

Daraius Irani, Ph.D. on EmailDaraius Irani, Ph.D. on LinkedinDaraius Irani, Ph.D. on Twitter
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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's posts focus on a wide range of topics from immigration to bicycling.