- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BALTIMORE — The thousands of new jobs expected to come to Maryland by 2011 as part of the federal military base realignment will add to the state’s expected labor shortage, a Towson University economist said yesterday.

Many of the 45,000 high-wage jobs with the military’s base realignment and closure (BRAC) plan will not be filled when they arrive, economist Daraius Irani said.

The expected labor shortage is, in large part, the result of baby boomers retiring, Mr. Irani said.

About 35 million baby boomers will leave the work force by 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of jobs in Maryland is expected to outpace the number of workers, and the type of jobs BRAC will bring to Maryland are not the easiest to fill, Mr. Irani said.

“There’s not a lot of physicists waiting about for a job to open up,” he said. “They’re already employed elsewhere. I think it’s going to be a challenge [to fill those job openings], but I think that Maryland is up to it.”

The jobs are high paying and expected to generate revenue for the state. Mr. Irani estimated the average household income of BRAC families who move to Maryland will be more than $100,000. A report paid for by the Department of Labor estimated that Maryland would gain about $4.7 million in state and local income and property taxes by 2015 because of BRAC.

The optimal solution to the influx of jobs is for Maryland residents to fill the positions and, in the long term, schools should be preparing students for such high-tech careers, Mr. Irani told the Maryland school board.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said public schools have the programs, including pre-engineering in 54 high schools across the state.

“So we do have a number of excellent initiatives that will at least help fill the need that you have identified,” she said.

But the board Vice President Dunbar Brooks expressed concern about Maryland not moving fast enough to fill job openings.

“If we’re not ready and poised to take these jobs, they will go elsewhere,” he said.

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