No more feel-good reporting on the economy

September 21, 2010

The Sun published a feel-good article on the latest report from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Statistics, starting, "Personal income in Maryland has collectively risen back out of the hole the recession dug." ("Incomes in state up from '08 slide," Sept. 21)

What the article failed to mention was the report's statement that professional services made the largest contribution to the non-farm earnings growth (and if I read the tables right, there was no farm contribution). What this indicates is what most Marylanders already know, that the "recovery" hasn't reached them yet.

Both the BEA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics publish wonderfully detailed reports on various aspects of the economy. The latter has just reported that Maryland was one of only two states to show a statistically significant increase in unemployment in August. This underscores how little meaning increased income has for most Marylanders, who still see good reason to be wary about their personal economy.

I know The Sun has budget problems, but surely it could contract with some under-employed economist or statistician to provide an occasional solid article on these statistics. You could greatly improve your economic reporting and thereby probably also your readership. Most adults welcome lucidly organized facts: even when they are disheartening, they provide a solid basis on which to plan, which is far better than being hit by a crisis when all you've been hearing is happy talk.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore

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