WASHINGTON – Maryland had the nation’s 46th-lowest number of state and local government workers per capita in 1997, based on figures scheduled to be released Friday by the Census Bureau.
But while the net loss of more than 1,100 jobs included heavy losses in such categories as government health and hospital workers, it was almost offset by big gains among government bureaucrats.
Categories included in the Census data show that while 107 firefighters’ jobs and 553 public welfare positions were eliminated, the number of financial, central and other government administrators grew by 989.
Overall, the number of full-time equivalent state and local government employees in Maryland fell from 252,816 in 1995 to 251,703 in 1997. The rate fell from 503 workers per 10,000 state residents in 1995 to 494 per 10,000 in 1997.
Washington, D.C., led all states with a rate of 873 local government workers per 10,000 residents — almost one out of every 10 city residents.
Virginia was 28th among states in 1997 with 532 state and local workers per 10,000 workers, just above the national average rate of 531. The commonwealth ranked 26th in 1995, when it had 549 workers per 10,000.
A spokesman for Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said Thursday that the administration would not comment on the public payroll figures until it could review the Census numbers.
But the executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties welcomed the overall drop in positions. David Bliden said that, at the local level at least, the increases have been in front-line jobs like teachers and police.
“I think Maryland, both state and local governments, do an outstanding job at getting efficiency out of their workforce and that’s clearly shown by the continuing drop of the number of state and local government employees in Maryland,” Bliden said.
While local governments were shedding firefighters, they had a net gain of 370 educators and 251 police officers between 1995 and 1997. But the greatest gain in local government employment in Maryland was in “other government administration,” a category that grew by 404 positions.
Still, Bliden lauded the numbers and said Maryland’s ranking was “a real commentary on government efficiency. … Citizens are getting a decent bang for their buck out of their government employees, particularly when the comparison is made with the rest of the country.”
Not everyone is cheering the state and local government streamlining, however.
Jonathan Carpenter, director of government relations at the Maryland Classified Employees Association in Baltimore, said he is “very aware that jobs are being lost in Maryland.”
Carpenter said the decline in state and local jobs is causing a drop in membership and hurting the association, which represents almost 16,000 Maryland workers and retirees.
“It’s something that we think the legislature should concentrate more on,” he said.
Maryland was one of 22 states that posted a net loss in state and local government employment from 1995 to 1997. Virginia and Washington, D.C., also posted a net loss in those jobs during that period.
The number of full-time equivalent state and local government employees increased nationally over the two years, with about 125,000 more jobs in 1997 than in 1995.
State and local governments nationwide employed a total of 16.7 million full- and part-time workers in 1997, who represented the equivalent of 14.2 million full-time equivalent workers.