Maryland’s economic recovery faltered in May as employers in the state shed 13,000 jobs, a decline only partially offset by government hiring and residents finding work in other states.
The private sector led the job losses with a decrease of 15,300 last month, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
“I think the beat goes on,” said Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group Inc. “The employment numbers for Maryland remain extremely disappointing, and Maryland appears to be losing significant ground to other states in this period of economic recovery.”
Indeed, despite job gains earlier this year, Maryland lost a larger share of its employment base from May 2010 to last month — 0.8 percent — than any other state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The state’s largest losses last month were among administrative and support services firms, which shed 4,000 jobs; retail, which lost 3,600; and the sector that covers construction and mining, which lost 3,100.
The country as a whole also saw its rebound slow in May after a strong start to the year. The national jobless rate ticked up to 9.1 percent in May on lackluster job growth.
“May was a soft month, there’s no getting around it,” DLLR Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez said Friday on a conference call with reporters.
But he pointed to positives, including 1,400 new federal government jobs created in May, an indication he said of the growing wave of military jobs coming to the state as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process.
“We’re also starting to see cyber [security] and information-based jobs as we prepare more and more of our neighbors for those careers,” Sanchez said.
Basu said while growth from BRAC will continue boosting the state’s economy over the coming years, the state’s economy has not seen the “energy” expected as a result of the military stimulus.
“One of the reasons this is so disappointing was because this was supposed to be a golden era for job creation in Maryland,” he said. “Not only is the national economy recovering, but this is the time when the economy was supposed to be supercharged by base realignment and cyber security activities.”
More Marylanders appeared to find work outside the state in May. A survey of state residents showed 2,000 more people working in May than the month before even as employers in the state cut jobs. That gain held the unemployment rate steady in May at 6.8 percent.
“More and more people are driving across the Potomac to Virginia because they’re adding more jobs than we are,” said Richard Clinch, director of economic development at the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute.
Maryland has long had such an imbalance because of its compact geography and proximity to employment hubs like Washington.
Clinch said the nationwide economic stall — the country added just 54,000 jobs last month — weighed heavy on Maryland’s jobs figures.
The state has for too long relied too heavily on the flow of federal dollars from Washington to agencies and contractors in Maryland, Clinch said, and with congressional gridlock casting uncertainty over future government spending, the state needs something else.
“For Maryland’s economy to grow, we need to have a national recovery because the government isn’t going to pull us out of this,” he said.
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