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August 22, 2009

Good news -- possibly

What's the most important thing a home buyer needs? A job -- which is why anyone interested in the fate of the housing market will be equally interested to know that Maryland employers created 10,000 jobs last month.

Well -- sort of.

Stay with me here.

As it often the case with economic surveys, the Labor Department figure comes with asterisks. The number is preliminary and could be revised down the road. It's also adjusted to try to account for seasonal variations -- the normal ups and downs of employment, like school bus drivers losing their jobs in early summer. As it happens, the state says, it's been a particularly difficult year to adjust because the usual patterns are all cattywampus.

Unadjusted, the job numbers are actually down, not up. But employment always falls in July because it's being compared with employment around June 12, when school is usually still in session. The 6,300-job decline last month is the smallest for a July since 1999.

Thus, a big seasonally adjusted gain. The biggest in four years.

It might be all statistical noise -- unemployment is up. But I've been hearing some encouraging things. Job search engine says Baltimore had the second-most job postings per capita among large metro areas in the second quarter (second only to Washington). And it has the third-best ratio of postings to unemployed residents -- 1 to 1.

Some of that is about the power of relativity -- as in, it's worse elsewhere. Job postings in Baltimore are down 5 percent from a year ago, vs. a 30 percent drop nationwide, says.

It sure would be good for the housing market, and especially the foreclosure rate, if job creation revs up in a big way.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: The economy


Cattywampus? I've never heard that expression. I'll have to add that.
I'll give you a Scottish word in exchange: Skewift (skuuu-wift). Means things are in disarray, uneven, messed up.

Regarding the jobs. At my husband's place of employ in DC, they are hiring. They only got 2 qualified applicants, and not that many unqualified applicants. The pay is very good so we thought it indicated that the job market might not be as rough as elsewhere- at least in the hi-tech field. Also a couple new restaurants are thriving, expanding or opening up here in Hampden. So that has got to be a good sign.

Oh, those do sound like good signs -- thanks for sharing! (Also: Great word.)

I feel that the hype over the labor department numbers if overblown. Several employers laid-off workers at the start of the recession 12 months ago and are just starting to see an increase in sales. Furthermore, production based companies are seeing the oversupply of products on their shelves being reduced to more manageable level. We are not to the point where I would say employment is on the rise. However in 12-18 month this could be a reality in the Baltimore Metro Region.

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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