Area hits two-decade job high -- Gazette.Net







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Despite dealing with federal sequester budget cuts, Montgomery and Frederick counties continue to build their job base beyond pre-recession levels. The counties added almost 6,000 jobs in June alone, according to the latest figures from the federal labor department.

The counties’ combined employment level of 590,500 in June was more than 7,000 jobs higher than any previous June in the past two decades. The previous high of 583,200 was reached in June 2006. That level dove to 541,900 in early 2010 following the recession, but job numbers have risen steadily since then.

Since June 2012, the area has added 17,000 jobs, the most in that 12-month period since 1999, when about 22,000 positions were added.

In June, most industries in Montgomery-Frederick had increases, including administrative, up 900; retail, up 800; and health care, up 800.

Among the companies that added jobs in the area in June was Wegmans, which hired about 330 of the planned 550 local employees for its new Germantown store by mid-June. The grocer expects to have the rest hired by mid-August to train for its mid-September opening, said store manager Phil Quattrini.

Sequestration has not affected Bethesda defense giant Lockheed Martin as much as some thought at this time, said Lockheed CFO Bruce Tanner. “We saw minimal impact to our sales in the second quarter as a result of sequestration actions,” he said.

Layoffs involving larger companies in Montgomery have been fewer this year, according to the state labor department. So far this year, three companies have filed notices of layoffs in Montgomery under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which generally applies to companies with more than 100 employees. Last year, there were five such warnings affecting Montgomery though July.

The latest was Ashburn, Va.-based government contractor MVM, which warned Maryland’s labor department last week that it might lay off 106 workers in Silver Spring and College Park by Sept. 30 due to a possible contract loss. Executives with MVM — which provides security services for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s facilities in Silver Spring and College Park — could not be reached for comment.

The only WARN notice related to Frederick so far this year was by Marriott International, which in April warned of a possible layoff of several hundred workers by December. Last year, only one WARN notice related to Frederick; that came in October.

The unadjusted unemployment rate in Montgomery County rose to 6.0 percent in June from 5.4 percent in May, according to a state labor department report. In Frederick County, the jobless level rose to 6.6 percent from 6.0 percent. Those levels were below the statewide unadjusted June rate of 7.5 percent.

The adjusted June rate was 7.0 percent; adjusted rates for counties were not available.

The jobless rates are higher than a year ago because more people are entering the job market these days, Leonard Howie, Maryland’s labor secretary, said in a conference call. About 10,000 more Montgomery County residents joined the labor force in June than a year ago, and 1,600 more Frederick County residents did so.

In addition, June typically brings higher unemployment levels than May because more students enter the job market, Howie said.

The Montgomery County Department of Economic Development also uses jobs data from private firm Economic Modeling Specialists International. In May, the department released a report that said jobs in Montgomery grew by almost 25,000, or 3.9 percent, between 2010 and 2012, a greater percentage than the growth in both Fairfax County, Va., and Washington, D.C.