Eye on the Economy: An Interactive Look at Maryland and the Regional Economy in December 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, the experts at RESI provides an analysis of the latest Maryland unemployment numbers. This analysis ensures business leaders have key information needed to determine how Maryland’s economic status impacts their organization.

December’s jobs numbers were released as scheduled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, despite the temporary government shutdown. In Maryland, Total Nonfarm employment decreased by 20,200 jobs, a 0.7% decrease from November. Conversely, neighboring states in the Mid-Atlantic region (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.) added a combined 14,400 jobs in December. Maryland’s unemployment rate ticked-up from 3.9% in November to 4.0% in December, while neighboring states’ unemployment rate held constant at 4.3%. While these numbers look dire for Maryland, Total Nonfarm employment has grown by 31,400 jobs over the past year, an increase of 1.2%.

Additionally, there is a good chance these estimates are adjusted upwards next month. The BLS collects employment numbers through a survey, and businesses do not always respond to the survey on time. In December, the BLS reported that only 64.9 percent of businesses responded to the survey. This is much lower than the 77.8 percent of businesses that responded in November. In fact, this is the lowest response rate since May 2012, over five years ago. A company involved in intense hiring for the holiday season is less likely to respond to a survey than a company with little change in sales and staffing. This means that the drop in employment last month is likely not as severe as the preliminary numbers may suggest. Next month, we’ll check back in on December’s numbers to see what revisions are made.

Which of Maryland’s industry sectors showed the most losses and gains?

Doing a deeper dive into the employment numbers by industry, the greatest losses were in Professional and Business Services, where employment dipped by 6,000 jobs. The Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector, as well as the Leisure and Hospitality sector, both lost approximately 2,900 jobs between November and December. Amid the losses there is one bright spot—the Information sector posted a gain of 700 jobs, representing a 2.0% increase.

To make more sense of what’s happening with Maryland’s employment numbers, we’ve embedded our new tool: the Mid-Atlantic Regional Employment Workbook. This dashboard allows you to examine 29 different industries and see how employment is varying in Maryland as well as four other states in the Mid-Atlantic region. To use the dashboard select a sector of the economy that interests you from the dropdown at the top. When you change the sector of interest, the map and five line graphs will update to reflect historical data for that industry. Want to know how employment changed in the sector last month? Click here to view each state’s percentage changes.

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