Service jobs took No. 1 spot in '80s, study finds Manufacturing lost top spot in area economy.

November 08, 1991|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Evening Sun Staff

The service industry -- led by robust growth in health care -- dethroned steelmaking and other manufacturing as king of the Baltimore area's economy during the 1980s, according to a new federal study.

In 1980, service jobs were the third largest category of employment. Ten years later, they were No. 1, according to the study, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 31,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the metropolitan area during the decade. But 138,000 new jobs for accountants, lawyers, secretaries, cooks and health-care workers -- the service industry -- were added. Of those, 38,400 were in health care.

"One out of five jobs that were there in 1980 were not there in 1990," said Alan Paisner, commissioner of the bureau of labor statistics region based in Philadelphia.

Service jobs grew by 72 percent during the decade, while construction grew by 47 percent and real estate grew by 33 percent. Manufacturing shrank by 19 percent.

Much of the job shift mirrors similar changes around the country, Paisner said. Nationally, services now account for 28 million jobs, vs. 25 million for wholesale and retail trade and 19 million for manufacturing, he said.

Although job losses in the metro area were more than compensated for by gains in other sectors, that produces hardship, he said.

"It's not easy to tell an out-of-work steelworker that he is now a nurse," Paisner said.

Health care has grown nationally as the population ages and requires more treatment. Much of that growth has been in cities, near major teaching hospitals and research institutions, he said.

The Baltimore area began 1991 with record employment of 470,000, but has lost some to the recession. In the 12 months ending in October, the metro area lost 19,000 jobs, or seven-tenths of 1 percent. The city accounted for 11,000 of those jobs, for an employment loss of eight-tenths of 1 percent.

Cities north of Baltimore tended to fare worse over the past year, while areas to the south generally did better, Paisner said. The exception was Washington, which has lost a slightly higher percentage of jobs.

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