WASHINGTON – Maryland officials gloated Wednesday over new figures that showed the state had the 15th-fastest rate of job growth in the nation in 2001, outpacing Virginia and other neighboring states.
The numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers are evidence that the state “is already rebounding (from Sept. 11) and that we are well positioned for the inevitable national rebound,” said David S. Iannucci, Maryland’s secretary of business and economic development.
“Maryland has a resilient economy,” Iannucci said, emphasizing the fact that Maryland was the “fastest growing in the Mid-Atlantic” region in a pointed reference to the state’s economic rival across the Potomac River.
But Virginia officials said they also expect to rebound from Sept. 11 with a vengeance, calling the commonwealth’s 2001 job figures a temporary lull.
William E. Mezger, chief economist with the Economic Information Services Division of the Virginia Employment Commission, attributed Virginia’s drop to the events of Sept. 11 as well as to the loss of jobs in the manufacturing and technology sectors.
Mezger said he is optimistic that Virginia will regain a higher rank next year as the economy rebounds generally, and as more money is allocated to defense, a mainstay of the state’s economy.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland had a job growth rate of 0.8 percent between 2000 and 2001, when the average number of non-farm jobs in the state rose from 2,450,000 to 2,469,700.
The state rate was significantly higher than the national average growth rate of 0.3 percent and well above all of Maryland’s neighboring states.
Job growth rates, both nationally and on the state level, were down sharply in 2001 from previous years because of the recession.
The bureau said that revised data for 1999 and 2000 show that Maryland had a robust growth of 2.7 percent each year, when it ranked 13th and 15th respectively in job growth in the nation. U.S. job growth rates for those years were 2.4 percent in 1999 and 2.2 percent in 2000.
Virginia’s job growth rate fell from 3.1 percent in 2000 to 0.3 percent in 2001, according to the bureau, dropping the state from eighth place to 25th place.
Other neighbors did not fare as well. Pennsylvania had a growth rate of 0.2 percent; Washington, D.C., had a rate of 0.1 percent; West Virginia jobs fell by 0.1 percent; Delaware’s jobs fell by 0.2 percent.
There has been other good news for Maryland.
It was only four months ago that two major independent surveys — one from the Corporation for Enterprise Development and the other from the Milken Institute — ranked Maryland as one of the top states in the new economy and well-positioned for long-term, sustainable economic growth.
State officials attribute Maryland’s success to investments in education and technology, among other things.
“The state’s significant investment in emerging, knowledge-based industries and our diverse economy helped us remain competitive and hold our own during the U.S. recession,” Iannucci said in a prepared statement.
“Maryland has weathered the storm of the national recession better than most other states,” his statement said. “The state entered the slowdown later than the nation, and seems to have returned to positive growth at the same time as the U.S.”
-30- CNS 03-20-02