GBC’s Fry: Is Maryland ‘OK’ with sluggish growth?

Don Fry Commentary on WYPR

A top investment expert recently summed up his 2012 economic forecast for Maryland in five words: “It’s going to be OK.”

That doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect, he said. It’s going to be sluggish – not terrific. But we’re not entering a second recession, he said.

That assessment is echoed by Maryland’s own Board of Revenue Estimates, which recently warned the governor and legislative leaders of “much slower growth” for our state’s economy in 2012 and 2013.

So, it won’t be another recession, but what kind of Maryland economy qualifies as “OK” these days?

• A 7.3 percent unemployment rate
• Employment growth of 0.2 percent so far in 2011
• Job growth that will hover at 1 percent for two years – and that would be an improvement
• A contraction in federal spending that recently prompted one major defense firm in Maryland to cut 800 jobs
• A projected 1.1 percent growth in Maryland’s gross domestic product in 2012 – less than half the rate forecast for the nation

All of this begs the question: is this really “OK?”

Experts point out Maryland can’t escape the effects of national economic trends. The economy in both the nation and in Maryland is getting flat. But flat doesn’t mean a recession, they say.

Maybe not, but we can either passively accept whatever buffeting national economic trends inflict upon us, or we can work proactively to strengthen Maryland’s economic competitiveness. To elected leaders, I highly recommend the latter.

Those making policy decisions in Annapolis and in county seats across the state must keep in mind one indisputable fact of life: the private sector – not government – drives job creation.

But government has a vital role – its responsibility is to nurture an environment that is conducive for job creation and economic growth. Focusing on that core mission is our best chance for sustained growth and it should go a long way to make our economy better than just “OK.”

This is Don Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, for 88.1 WYPR, your NPR news station.

Comments are closed.