Maryland gained jobs in June, but unemployment rises to 7%

For the second straight month, Maryland added jobs but saw its unemployment rate go up.

The state's jobless rate rose to 7 percent in June from 6.7 percent in May, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday. Unemployment also increased slightly from 6.9 percent in June 2012.

Maryland gained 4,300 jobs last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey showed. The federal estimates are preliminary and adjusted to account for seasonal changes in hiring and layoffs.

Maryland, with a labor force of 3.1 million people, was among 28 states with higher unemployment in June. The state's jobless rate has been increasing since April and is less than a percentage point below the national rate of 7.6 percent.

The unemployment rate and the number of jobs gained are measured separately by government surveys and often appear contradictory.

The unemployment figures "suggest that Maryland's performance vis a vis the balance of the nation is beginning to deteriorate, and the leading likely cause of that deterioration is sequestration," the across-the-board federal spending cuts, said Anirban Basu, head of Sage Policy Group, a Baltimore economic and policy consulting firm.

"What seems to have occurred in May and June is that the sequestration impacts are broadening and now large enough to be reflected in the economy-wide unemployment data for Maryland," he said.

While unemployment has risen, Maryland added jobs in June, compared with the previous month and compared with a year earlier. Maryland had gained jobs in May as well — 6,500, according to revised estimates — after losing 4,900 jobs in April.

The state has added 42,800 jobs since June 2012, Labor Department figures show.

Adding more than 40,000 jobs in a 12-month span "represents pretty healthy job growth," Basu said.

Maryland's private sector added 6,200 jobs in June, the survey showed. The biggest gains came in the leisure and hospitality sector, with 3,200 more jobs. Education and health services added 1,600.

The professional and business services sector gained 400 jobs, and the financial activities sector added 200.

But the state lost 1,900 government jobs and saw construction jobs dip by 600.

Maryland has recovered more than 99 percent of the jobs lost in the recession, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Through June, all but one month this year has seen a gain in jobs from the previous month.

The increase in unemployment can be partly explained by the calendar, said Leonard Howie, Maryland's labor secretary, during a conference call Thursday.

"One thing that we know is that June typically brings higher unemployment because students leave school and enter the job market," Howie said.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com