Maryland losing high-tech jobs in defense industry 4,416 positions lost, about 5% of state's total, between 1990 and 1995

February 16, 1997|By CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - Maryland lost nearly 5 percent of its private- sector, high-tech jobs over a five-year period - largely because of a severe cut in defense electronics positions, a recent survey indicates.

The survey found that the number of Marylanders employed in private-sector, high-tech jobs dipped from 93,235 to 88,819 between 1990 and 1995. That's a loss of 4,416 jobs.

A whopping 7,382 manufacturing jobs were lost in defense electronics - about 42 percent of the total jobs from this sector.

But some of those losses were offset by increases in other high-tech sectors - telecommunications, software and computer services and other manufacturers. They increased by 2,966 jobs over the five years, from 75,642 in 1990 to 78,608 in 1995.

Trade association survey

The survey was conducted by the American Electronics Association, the nation's largest high-tech trade association.

Chuck Porcari, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, said defense cutbacks brought on by the end of the Cold War and the economic recession of the early '90s "combined to affect a lot of states. Maryland certainly isn't alone," Porcari said.

Many of the defense electronics jobs in Maryland were lost from Bethesda-based Martin Marietta, which merged recently with Lockheed Corp. of California.

Nationwide, the 17 companies that make up Lockheed-Martin have laid off 100,000 workers over the last 10 years, said company spokesman Charles Manor.

Manor also attributed job losses to defense cutbacks, especially fTC in procurement and research and development.

Not all the news in the AEA survey was bad. It rated Maryland among the top 15 states in four categories.

Maryland was 12th in its number of private-sector, high-tech firms, with 3,641, and it was 15th in the number of people employed by high-tech firms, with 88,819.

It was 10th in its concentration of high-tech workers, with 51 of every 1,000 private-sector employees in Maryland working in the high-tech industry, and it was 10th in the average wage of high-tech workers. Those workers earn an average of $49,500, the survey said.

Porcari attributed the high rankings in part to efforts by the state government to attract high-tech jobs.

"Over the last two years, Maryland has moved significantly forward" in attracting and keeping high-tech jobs, Porcari said.

State's three advantages

He said the state had three advantages in drawing high-tech businesses: geography, with its proximity to both Washington and New York; an educated work force; and an extensive infrastructure, with three major airports within easy reach.

"We see ourselves as doing a good job, but we need to get better" in attracting high-tech jobs, Porcari said.

"There's no question that those types of jobs are high-paying, family-supporting jobs," he added.

Jim Brady, secretary of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, and Gov. Parris N. Glendening are working aggressively to attract those jobs, Porcari said.

He cited a 1996 tax credit for businesses that attract new jobs to the state and the governor's proposed 10 percent income tax cut as examples.

High-tech jobs are in great demand, said AEA President Bill Archey, because they are almost always higher-paying than similar jobs in other industries.

Nationally, salaries in the high-tech industry average more than $46,000 a year, compared with a $27,000 average in all other private-sector jobs, Archey said.

High-tech industries are also the largest manufacturing employers in the nation, he said, having surpassed automobile and textile manufacturers.

According to Archey, the AEA survey was the first to compare states on this issue, because individual states compile their statistics in different ways.

Pub Date: 2/16/97

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