Data File: Tight Labor Market Continues
By V. Dion Haynes
While unemployment rates in Virginia and Maryland rose in August, the jobless rate for some parts of the Washington region remained steady and others dropped, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Tuesday.
Unemployment in the District, Arlington and Alexandria remained at 4.1 percent. The jobless rate in Bethesda, Frederick and Gaithersburg dropped from 3.5 percent to 3.3 percent.
Unemployment in the region remained well below the national average of 6.1 percent, and below state averages as well.
According to data released two weeks ago, the District reports that its unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percent to 7 percent in August. The jobless rates in Virginia and Maryland, by contrast, each rose 0.2 percent. The unemployment in Virginia climbed to 4.6 percent, the highest since January 1996, and Maryland to 4.5 percent, the highest since December 2003, experts say.
The data underscored a dichotomy in the economy in the Washington region, which is buffered largely by the infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in government contract work, and other parts of Virginia and Maryland which suffered greater from the loss of construction and telecommunications jobs, experts say.
Washington "is bucking the trends that we're seeing elsewhere. Even though the unemployment rates are inching up, they're not significant movement," said Marisa Di NataleÖ, senior economist at Moody's Economy.com. The area is "benefiting from all the defense contracting filtering out to [firms] in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland," she added.
Still, the uptick in the region's unemployment rate since August 2007 --- 1 percent in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria and 0.6 in Bethesda, Frederick and Gaithersburg -- illustrates to some experts that it is not completely shielded from the economic downturn.
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