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What's the true State of the State? How Maryland is faring under Gov. Hogan, by the numbers

Gov. Larry Hogan is set to give his annual State of the State address today.

While governors typically use the occasion to tout their successes in office, it also offers an opportunity to provide an annual check-up on the health of the state using publicly available data.

In several ways, Maryland seems better off since Hogan, a Republican, took office in 2015. The state’s economy is doing better. Fewer people are out of work. And more people are earning college degrees.

But in other areas — particularly crime and drug overdoses — the state is struggling.

Whether one credits or blames the governor for these trends, here is how the state is faring:

Jobs

In the past three years, Maryland has added more than 138,000 jobs.

In December of 2014, the state had roughly 2.96 million people employed. Today there are more than 3.1 million people employed, according to state data.

Median household income also has risen — from about $74,000 in 2014 to $76,000 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census.

Unemployment rate

As jobs have increased, the ranks of the jobless have shrunk. Mirroring a national trend, unemployment has declined steadily in Maryland. In December 2014, 5.5 percent of Marylanders were unemployed. Today just 4 percent are.

Education

Several key educational statistics point in a positive direction as well. More Marylanders are earning high school and college degrees than in 2014.

From 2014 to 2016, the number of Marylanders with at least a bachelor’s degree increased from 37.3 percent to 38.4 percent. Those with a high school degree ticked up from 89 to 89.6 percent, according to Census data.

Meanwhile, the percentage of high school students who fared well on Advanced Placement tests increased from 61 percent in 2014 to 63 percent in 2017.

Crime

The fight against violent crime has not been as successful during the Hogan years. Three consecutive years in which Baltimore has had more than 300 homicides have pushed up the statewide homicide rate.

In 2014, there were 446.1 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in Maryland. In 2016 — the latest number available — the violent crime rate rose to 472 per 100,000 residents, according to the FBI.

Opioid crisis

Meanwhile, Maryland has been hit hard by drug overdoses, like much of the country.

In 2014, there were 1,041 overdose deaths in Maryland. In 2016, that number more than doubled: 2,089 people lost their lives to drug overdoses, according to state statistics.

Environment

The health of the Chesapeake Bay has improved slightly since 2014, though the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science still gives it a C grade. Ecological indicators with the strongest improvement include the abundance of underwater grasses and the population of blue crabs, though both have been helped by favorable weather patterns in recent years.

However, the number of days during which smog levels exceeded health standards has been steadily rising since 2014, from 11 that year to 26 in 2016, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment. But again, scientists say those statistics are heavily influenced by weather, and they are significantly below figures from 2005 through 2012, when as many as 40 to 70 days a year exceeded the current smog standards.

Sun reporter Scott Dance contributed to this piece.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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