Maryland lost jobs in January from December, halting five consecutive months of gains, according to federal figures released Monday.
About 5,000 positions of the 9,800 in job losses this January were in retail.
Despite the job losses, the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.1 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted 5.8 percent in January, suggesting that more Maryland residents could be finding work in neighboring states or Washington, D.C.
Many economists expect this year to be a stronger year for hiring since Congress reached a budget deal.
The unemployment rate in Montgomery County declined to an unadjusted 4.1 percent in December from 4.9 percent a year earlier, according to a state labor department report. Montgomery’s jobless level was the lowest for December since it was 3.9 percent in 2008. January figures were not available.
Frederick County’s rate also hit its lowest December mark since 2008 at 4.8 percent, down from 5.5 percent a year earlier.
Montgomery and Frederick counties gained some 14,000 jobs last year, the most since almost 15,000 in 2000, according to federal labor department figures.