Job picture in Maryland looks good But Baltimore firms to fire more than hire

August 30, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Job prospects will likely remain strong for the rest of the year in Maryland, except for Baltimore, a survey of local employers released today indicates.

For the third straight quarter, about one-fourth of the Maryland companies said they expected to add permanent staff in 1993, )) Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc. reported.

Only 8 percent of the state's employers planned to lay off workers.

That gives Maryland a slightly better job market than the national average. Of the 15,000 employers surveyed across the country, 22 percent said they planned to add staff, while 11 percent planned to cut in the final quarter of the year.

"It is slow but steady growth," said Chang M. Kong, a Towson State University economist.

Outlying areas, such as Charles and Calvert counties, held out great hope for job seekers, as 40 percent of all employers said they planned to expand their staff by Dec. 31, and only 7 percent planned to cut.

Likewise, companies in the Washington suburbs were bullish. More than three times as many employers there planned to add than planned to cut.

The only pessimistic region was Baltimore, where slightly more employers planned to fire (11 percent) than hire (10 percent).

Local business people said that after months of economic fits and starts, they have become cautious.

But those who have seen recent improvements point to increased demand for money-saving products or small luxuries.

Marilyn Williams, owner of Keepsakes & Collectibles stores at Harborplace and the Owings Mills mall, said she's seen sales of items such as music boxes increase because Baltimoreans are taking their families for trips to the Inner Harbor instead of going on bigger vacations.

"People can't afford to take big vacations, so they are visiting family and friends where they can get free room and board," she said. "Families are coming in and getting a gift to take home to grandmother, who is watching the dog."

Ms. Williams says she is beefing up her normal Christmas expansion -- five new workers instead of three.

But for others, the economy and the city still are worrisome.

Jeffrey Feldman, owner of Felco Packaging Specialist on East Baltimore Street, said because of slow sales he will only hire temporary help for the Christmas rush.

He hired only one person this year -- a bookkeeper -- and got more than 160 applicants.

Mr. Feldman said he knows the city's employers are having difficulty. But after 30 years in Baltimore, Mr. Feldman said he's planning to keep his 20-person firm in the city.

"We've thought about leaving," he said. "But you dance with the one who brought you."

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