Maryland lost jobs in 1993 but rallies

February 17, 1994|By David Conn | David Conn,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland was one of only six states that suffered a net job loss last year, according to a new Labor Department report, but strong employment growth in the last half of the year pointed to a much stronger 1994.

While job creation picked up in much of the nation last year, Maryland companies cut their payrolls by about 1,000 jobs, or 0.05 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Labor Department. Hardest-hit were the construction and manufacturing industries.

But economists said the small statewide job loss belied a clear trend of job gains toward the end of the year.

"I think the story should be that Maryland is emerging from the recession, that jobs began to grow in the latter part of the year . . . and that everybody expects that jobs will continue to grow in the new year," said economist Charles W. McMillion, whose Washington consulting and research firm, MBG Information Services, compiled the government numbers and released them yesterday.

In only five other states -- New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, California and Hawaii -- did the number of jobs decline last year. The District of Columbia also lost jobs.

The Labor Department surveyed companies about the size of their payrolls. But a similar survey of households at the end of the year showed that employment among Marylanders actually increased, at almost the national average.

The household survey showed 45,500 more Maryland residents were employed in December 1993 compared with the year before, or about 1.8 percent more than in 1992. The national average increase was 1.99 percent.

The difference between the two surveys could be due to a larger number of Maryland residents who found work outside the state, economists said. But it also could reflect the fact that many more small companies are being created as larger industries continue to downsize, and the government's method of sampling employers doesn't catch those start-ups.

"I think the sample misses small firms and emerging firms, especially in the service areas," said Mahlon Straszheim, chief of the economics department at the University of Maryland at College Park.

For instance, Wendell M. Kelly left his job last year as a regional manager at Johnson & Johnson Co., a job loss according to the survey of employers. But he and partner Dennis J. Garrett started a medical supply distribution company in Baltimore that employs about 20 people.

"I would say that, out of the 20, at least seven of those were unemployed at the time [they were hired], and most of them were laid off," said Mr. Garrett, who expects his payroll to rise to about 42 by the end of this year.

Dr. Straszheim said the state can expect jobs to grow at a rate of 1.6 percent in 1994, which is better than last year, but still below the national average. "The state's recovery has lagged the rest of the nation, and it probably will for the rest of the year," said Dr. Straszheim, who also serves as a consultant to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

He said the professional services industries, which employed 1.7 percent more people last year than in 1992, will continue to grow, led by management consulting, computer and legal services firms, as well as the securities industry.

Mr. McMillion's estimate for Maryland is "about 1 percent employment growth [in 1994], which is about 20,000 jobs. That's not terrific, but it's the best performance since 1989."

The medical and health care industries will continue to drive job creation in Maryland this year, Mr. McMillion said, although he doubted that higher-paying service jobs will add much to Maryland's payrolls.

WHERE THE JOBS WERE

1993 job growth or loss in Maryland, by industry.

INDUSTRY .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..% CHG.

Manufacturing .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .-2.32

Construction .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..-2.27

Retail/wholesale .. .. .. .. .. .. .-0.90

Government .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .-0.34

Utilities .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..+0.40

Finance/insurance,

real estate .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...+0.54

Services .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...+1.66

TOTAL .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...-0.05

So: Labor Department

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