WASHINGTON – Maryland had the fifth-highest per capita personal income in the nation in 2000, continuing its run as one of the wealthiest states through the 1990s, according to a new Commerce Department report.
The department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis said the state’s per capita personal income of $33,621 in 2000 trailed only Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, respectively. The per capita personal income reflects the average income of a state’s residents in a year.
Maryland was in fifth place throughout the decade, according to the BEA.
Economic analysts attributed Maryland’s strong showing to the state’s financial stability and its ability to attract professional businesses into the state on a permanent basis.
“It’s a reflection of our educational attainment, it’s a reflection of the industries that are here, it’s a reflection of the fact that we are one of the most competitive states in the nation, and we’re lucky to live here,” said Anirban Basu, a professor of economics at Towson University.
High income in Maryland means greater buying power for residents here than in other states, Basu said. That, in turn, attracts businesses, especially those that cater to big-spending consumers.
The state’s continued high levels of income have forced people to take a new look at Maryland as a profitable place to live and work, he said, especially toward the end of the 1990s.
“Since 1996, we’ve really experienced a change in the perception of Maryland as a state in which to do business,” Basu said.
State investments in higher education, as well as transit and infrastructure, have helped keep the Maryland economy steady, said Raquel Guillory, spokeswoman for Gov. Parris Glendening.
“When you have potential employees that are well-trained, well-skilled and well-educated, that helps attract companies to Maryland,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of investments in higher education to help attract that workforce.”
Income estimates also help state and federal agencies in planning their budgets, said BEA economist Jeff Newman. That’s one reason why the bureau released the income figures now instead of waiting until March, when more accurate population figures for the 1990s will be available from the Census Bureau.
But experts do not expect a significant change in the per capita income levels when they are figured with the new, more accurate population numbers in March.
“I don’t think the revisions are going to be huge, and it probably won’t affect the relative rankings between the states,” said Mark Goldstein, an economist at the Maryland Department of Planning.
In general, East Coast urban areas have higher incomes, Newman said. That’s true in the Baltimore and Washington areas, which have the additional benefit of a steady supply of government and other professional jobs, he said.
While Connecticut topped the list throughout the 1990s, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York traded the second- through fourth-highest slots in the decade. Colorado and California were regularly in the top 10 on the list.