- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2012

After a poor June jobs report, Maryland has lost more jobs in the first six months of 2012 than any other state in the nation, according to numbers released from the U.S. Department of Labor.

A report by non-partisan grassroots organization Change Maryland compiled with preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Maryland has lost a little over 10,000 jobs in 2012 and is one of 12 states in the nation to suffer job loss this year.

“This is a very disturbing trend, which needs to be addressed,” Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan said in a press release. “I’m deeply concerned that state government’s onslaught of taxes and fees is causing us to lose businesses, jobs and taxpayers at an alarming rate.”

According to BLS numbers, a June drop of 11,000 jobs pulled the numbers down. Between January and May, the state had gained 700 jobs this year, said Maureen O’Connor, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation spokeswoman. She said that BLS’ monthly data is volatile and can often be revised.

Numbers do fluctuate when companies send updated or new data, BLS spokesman Gary Steinberg said. While the bureau always accepts reports, he said the revisions are usually very small in relation to the total number of jobs in a state. While revisions could be noticeable, they generally have no effect on the total number of jobs gained or lost.

Ms. O’Connor also pointed out that while Maryland has lost the largest number of jobs, New Hampshire, Maine, West Virginia and Kansas are losing jobs at a faster rate than the Free State.

According to BLS numbers referenced by Change Maryland, the job losses are not just taking place now. From 2007 to the present, Maryland has lost more jobs than any state in the region except for Pennsylvania. The numbers state that Maryland has lost 40,000 jobs since 2007, and Pennsylvania has lost 60,000.

“If you project back five years, we’re doing poorly and if you project back to January, we’re doing poorly,” said Change Maryland spokesman Jim Pettit. “By both measures, the numbers are showing that there’s a problem.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office, which has had a bitter public dispute with Change Maryland, disagreed. Mr. O’Malley’s spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said that to show such a large job loss in the state, Change Maryland is “simply cherry picking months” and selectively leaving out numbers — including a 9,000 increase in jobs between December and January. She said that Maryland has more jobs today than a year ago.

In response to the report, the governor’s office provided Mr. O’Malley’s June 26 speech at the Maryland Municipal League conference, where he laid out his platform for job creation in the state through public investment.

Mr. Pettit said that compared to states such as Michigan or Nevada, Maryland’s job loss is not dire because of its proximity to the federal government. But he said that comparing Maryland to other states in the region which are more similar raises a red flag.

“By that comparison, Virginia is cleaning our clock,” he said.

In recent years, companies like Hilton Worldwide and Computer Sciences Corporation have chosen to move their businesses to Virginia instead of Maryland because of the Old Dominion’s friendlier business climate of lower taxes and fewer regulations, Mr. Pettit said.

Mr. Pettit said that Maryland cannot rely on the federal or state governments for job creation, as is now the case.

“We would like to see more private sector growth,” he said.

John McClain, a senior fellow at the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, said Maryland’s poor jobs report may come from its reliance on federal government affiliated jobs. With the possibility of $1 trillion in cuts to government spending looming on the horizon, companies are being cautious by not hiring or even laying off employees, he said.

Maryland’s tax and regulation policies are not a factor in job loss, Mr. McClain said, but could keep companies from locating in the state.

“Maryland is a high-tax state and there may be companies who would not consider Maryland as a location because their taxes are very high,” he said. “So in the long term, Maryland does need to do something about their taxes.”

This is the second Change Maryland report Mr. O’Malley’s office has been critical of this month. The earlier report, which looked at the number of people moving from Maryland to Virginia and was compiled with IRS data, was attacked in a post on the governor’s blog. The blog post used information from the Phoenix Institute, Ernst & Young, Council on State Taxation and the Tax Foundation to discredit Change Maryland, and called Mr. Hogan “a failed congressional candidate and failed would-be candidate for governor.” The Tax Institute took issue with the governor’s blog post, saying it misrepresented the institute’s facts.

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