Pay gains slowed last year for workers in state Rate was lower than U.S. average

November 23, 1993|By John E. Woodruff | John E. Woodruff,Staff Writer

Maryland workers made slower gains in average pay than others in the country last year for the first time since the boom years of the late 1980s. But their progress was enough to hang onto the state's relatively enviable pay-level ranking, 10th in the country.

Pay levels for Marylanders covered by state and federal unemployment insurance rose to an average of $27,145 from 1991 to 1992, an increase of 4.6 percent. By comparison, average pay for all covered Americans rose 5.4 percent to $25,903.

"What is striking is that from 1987, the first year of comparable figures, Maryland has always before run well ahead of the national increase in average annual pay," said Alan Paisner, the regional commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiled the figures and released them yesterday.

But the recession hit Maryland and several other states on the East and West coasts harder and longer than the national averages.

The figures provide one more way of looking at the already well-documented struggle the state's economy faced in 1991 and 1992, years when recovery began in most of America but not here.

"This reflects the fact that Maryland's recovery was very limited at that time and was focused mainly in the service industries, which don't pay as much as sectors like construction, transportation, manufacturing and wholesale, where Maryland was still losing jobs at that time," said Mahlon Straszheim, chairman of the economics department at the University of Maryland at College Park and Gov. William Donald Schaefer's chief economic adviser.

"We may well see a repetition of this pattern when the 1993 figures are announced a year from now, but in the 1994 figures I would think that the pattern would begin to reverse," he said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics figures rank all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, which has stood first in the income rankings for many years, including 1992.

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