A government study has put the lie to the notion that Maryland's dependance on stable industries would shield it from the ravages of recession. The U.S. Labor Department estimates that the state lost some 75,000 jobs last year, 29,000 in Baltimore. The 3.4 percent drop was the worst showing of any state from New Jersey to Georgia. The news was even worse in Baltimore, where the labor pool shrank 6.3 percent. The urban component doesn't begin to explain the decline -- Philadelphia registered a far more modest drop of 3.5 percent; Washington D.C. lost 1.3 percent.
These numbers are disquieting but hardly surprising. Manufacturing has been on the ropes here for years. The alternative economic hub built around services has been buffeted by cyclical and structural winds. Defense continues to weaken in the face of cutbacks in Pentagon spending. Less obvious are regional disparities that have corralled economic growth largely within Baltimore and Washington suburbs.
The new report is about more than what the recession has done to Maryland's employment base. It mirrors seismic structural shifts that have wrought profound, perhaps irreversible changes in Maryland's economy. To their credit, state policy makers are focusing on education, life sciences, creating a seed capital fund and emphasizing international trade.