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Md. adds 10,500 jobs in Feb.; unemployment rate down slightly

Maryland created 10,500 jobs last month, largely in the private sector, chipping away at the state’s unemployment rate, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Maryland’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in February, to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in January. Maryland’s unemployment rate in February 2012 was also 6.7 percent.

The state continues to fare better than much of the country; national unemployment was 7.7 percent last month, down from 7.9 percent in January.

The private sector contributed nearly six out of every 10 new positions created in February. The professional/business services sector added the most jobs: 1,900 positions at employers such as accounting firms — which are in high demand at this time of year — and computer systems design companies.

The financial activities sector added 1,000 jobs, particularly at lending institutions and insurance companies, and the education/health care/social assistance sector added 900 positions.

Another 700 jobs were added in the natural resources/mining/construction sector, which usually loses jobs or stays flat during February, according to the report. The industry has added 4,900 jobs since November, even though historically these fields lose an average of 900 jobs during that three-month period.

From February 2012 through the end of last month, Maryland added 38,200 jobs, and, according to the report, the state has recovered more than 94 percent of the jobs lost during the recession.

Every month, the BLS also revises the employment numbers from the previous month. Officials said Maryland actually added 7,500 jobs from December to January, 800 more than they previously reported.