Boom for suburbs, bust for Baltimore

September 01, 1992|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Manpower Inc.Staff Writer

Baltimore will continue losing jobs this year as the suburbs return to the booming growth of the 1980s, an employment survey released yesterday suggests.

That means the "doughnut syndrome" -- in which a city center's economic base decays while a ring of suburbs thrives -- is likely to worsen here, said Michael Conte, a professor of economics at the University of Baltimore. "It really is very distressing," he said.

From 1980 to 1991, the city lost 29,000 jobs while the five counties surrounding Baltimore gained 168,000 jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The flight of urban jobs is likely to continue at least through the end of the year, according to the survey, conducted by Milwaukee-based Manpower, a temporary services agency. The quarterly survey of 15,000 employers nationwide tracks plans for permanent or long-term hiring.

Although the inner cities are expected to suffer, the survey found that job prospects in the overall Baltimore-Washington market matched almost exactly the mildly positive national trend.

In the region and nation, about one out of five employers planned to hire before the end of the year. Only one out of 10 planned to reduce staff.

The survey found job prospects varied by industry and location.

The best job prospects are likely to be found in wholesale and retail trade, which will be beefing up for the Christmas trade. Nearly one-third of the trade businesses contacted said they planned to hire soon, Manpower said.

Poor outlooks were predicted for job prospects in mining, government and construction.

And though most cities had been losing jobs for the past 18 months, the most recent survey found that many will start rebounding in the fourth quarter.

Most places, including previously hammered cities such as New York, Boston and Detroit, all can expect job gains, the survey said. But a handful, including Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Houston, will likely lose, the survey found.

Within Maryland, the job market varied widely.

In Baltimore, only 7 percent of those employers surveyed said they planned to hire, while more than twice that number planned to reduce staff. A smaller reduction in jobs was predicted for Washington. But all the suburbs surveyed are expected to add jobs in the next several months.

Nearly half of the employers in the Rockville-Bethesda area plan to hire and only 3 percent plan to reduce staff, according to the survey.

Other hot job areas are likely to be St. Mary's County, where 40 percent of the employers surveyed planned to hire; Frederick, where 37 percent planned to hire; and the region around the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where 34 percent of the employers had hiring plans.

Business people in the area say they are moving out to the suburbs because that is where the money is.

Brenda Dandy has run a tropical fish shop in Baltimore for 29 years, but business in the city has gotten so bad she's thinking of selling or moving her city store and concentrating the business in her Baltimore County store. The Lutherville store, which requires more staffing, "does much better," she said.

She says she hates to leave the original site near Belvedere Square on York Road, but sales were so slow that she had to lay off some workers earlier this year. "I'm not quite sure what we're going to do," she said.

Others say they fear the worsening urban economy would become a vicious cycle -- driving even more jobs out of the cities.

Joe Mansueti, who owns Bagdon's Vacuum Cleaner Sales and Service in Highlandtown, says that for the past year "business stinks. With a capital STINKS."

Mr. Mansueti says he is committed to staying in his city store. But he has branched out to take advantage of the suburban growth. His daughter opened a vacuum cleaner store in Baltimore County. "We are holding on, but Highlandtown has so many vacant stores. . . . It hurts us," he said.

The relocation of jobs to the suburbs is worsening the plight of poor and urban job seekers, said Clifton Williams, an employment specialist for the Baltimore Urban League.

Mr. Williams said he sees hundreds of newly unemployed workers and job seekers each week, but job openings in the city are scarce.

More hiring expected, but not in cities

Percentage of employers planning to increase and decrease staff during the fourth quarter of 1992. Net is the difference between these two figures.

Based on a survey conducted in the second half of July.


Area .. .. .. .. .. .... .. .. .. .... ..Net

St. Mary's County.. .40.. .. .. .. ..3.. ...37

Frederick.. .. .. .. 37.. .. .. .. .10.. .. 27

Hagerstown.. .. .. ..30.. .. .. .. . 7.. ...23

Annapolis.. .. .. .. 23.. .. .. .. ..3.. .. 20

BWI Airport.. .. .. .34.. .. .. .. .14.. .. 20

Greater Laurel.. .. .17.. .. .. .. . 7.. .. 10

Columbia.. .. .. .. .20.. .. .. .. .13.. .. .7


counties.. .. .. .. .23.. .. .. .. .17.. .. .6

Salisbury.. .. .. .. 17.. .. .. .. .17.. .. .0

Baltimore.. .. .. ... 7.. .. .. .. .16.. .. .-9

Maryland average*... 22.. .. .. .. .10.. .. 12

* Average includes Silver Spring, South Central Prince George's County, Gaithersburg, Rockville/Bethesda


Area.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .... .. Net

Rockville/Bethesda.. 43.. .. .. .. ..3.. .. .40

Silver Spring.. .. ..24.. .. .. .. ..7.. .. .17

Gaithersburg.. .. ...13.. .. .. .. ..7.. .. ..6

S. Central Prince

George's County.. ...13.. .. .. .. ..7.. .. ..6

Falls Church, Va... .15.. .. .. .. .11.. .. ..4

Washington.. .. .. ...7.. .. .. .. .10.. .. .-3

Washington area

average*.. .. .. .. .17.. .. .. .. ..8.. .. ..9

* Average includes Greater Laurel

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