2011 ‘State of the Region’ report: Job growth in government, education and health helped Baltimore area weather the recession

BALTIMORE, Md. — Job growth in educational and health services and in government enabled the Baltimore region to weather the recession better than most competing regions, according to data in the 2011 State of the Region Report released Dec. 12 by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

The Baltimore region also retained its first-place ranking for academic research funding among 20 U.S. regions studied for the report, compiled by the GBC and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. The report ranks Greater Baltimore and 19 key competing regions on 112 benchmark indicators measuring business vitality, economic health and quality of life. Data analysis for the report was conducted by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI).

This is the sixth in a series of “State of the Region” reports that have been issued since 1997.

The Baltimore region lost jobs in five of seven major employment categories compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But job gains since 2008 in the region’s two largest employment categories — 2 percent growth in the education and health services and 1.4 percent growth in government jobs — cushioned the region’s overall job losses. The two categories combined account for more than 36 percent of the region’s jobs, according to data included in the State of the Region Report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Baltimore region’s overall employment decline of 1.6 percent between 2008 and 2010 ranked fifth best for job declines among regions studied. All 20 of the regions experienced overall employment declines, ranging from 0.6 percent in Austin, Texas to a 3.6 percent in Tampa, Fla.

The Baltimore region achieved top-five rankings in 30 categories. It ranked in the bottom five in 13 categories.

Academic research and development expenditures in the Baltimore region topped $2.1 billion in 2008, compared to $1.8 billion spent on academic research in the Boston region, according to National Science Foundation data contained in the report. This is the third consecutive State of the Region report in which the Baltimore region has ranked first for academic research.

Other categories in which the Baltimore region achieved top-five rankings include hospital quality, health care cost of living, personal and household income, minority and women-owned firms, high-tech employment change, transit ridership, and change in air passenger volume.

Stemming violent crime and traffic congestion continue to be among the region’s toughest challenges, compared to other competing regions.  Although the region experienced a 4.7 percent reduction in violent crime between 2007 and 2009, the region’s overall violent crime rate of 722 per 100,000 population ranked No. 18 — last among study regions for which crime data was available.

For commuters, the Baltimore region ranks No. 19 among study regions for annual delay and annual fuel wasted by automobile commuters. The Washington, D.C. region ranks No. 20. For average travel time to work, the Baltimore region ranks No. 18, while Atlanta and Washington, D.C. rank Nos. 19 and 20 respectively.

Other bottom-five categories for the Baltimore region include roadway miles per capita, manufacturing employment percentage, convention center size, percentage employment in the wholesale and retail trade sector, and infant mortality. 

View the 2011 State of the Region Report.

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