Employment in downtown Baltimore declined last year for the first time since 2011, while the number of people living in the area continued to climb, according to a report released Thursday.

Other findings in the study, produced for the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, also were mixed as more offices filled, but occupancy of retail and hotel space fell.


The losses may reflect the slowdown that hit Baltimore hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions last summer after the April 2015 riots, said Kirby Fowler, president of the nonprofit, which provides maintenance, security, cleaning and other services in downtown.

The consulting firm that assembled the data also changed its methodology this year, he said.

"There certainly was some good news in the report, even with some of the more challenging effects that we uncovered," he said. "2015 turned out to be a far better year than I would have predicted last May."

The annual "State of Downtown" report charts changes within a one-mile radius of Pratt and Light streets, a territory that includes Federal Hill, Harbor Point, Mount Vernon and Old Town.

The area added about 744 residents in 2015, for a total of 42,350, as more than 900 new apartments opened. The occupancy rate in 20-unit or more apartment buildings also continued to increase, hitting nearly 95 percent, according to the report.

The number of jobs in the area fell 4 percent, to 118,723 positions — fewer than in 2013 and 2014, but more than 2012.

In response to the unrest, the Downtown Partnership plans to spend an additional $309,000 to bolster its workforce development, homeless outreach and business assistance programs, Fowler said.

To pay for it, the partnership plans a one-penny increase to the supplemental tax rate charged to roughly 1,200 commercial property owners in the Downtown Management Authority district, a 106-block area.

The rate increase — the first since 2010 — was approved by the Downtown Management Authority board this month. It would bring the charge to 22.39 cents per 100 dollars of assessed property value and is expected to go into effect in July, pending final approval.

"All of us recognized that we wanted to do something more to address the recovery," he said.

Downtown Partnership's State of Downtown


2014: 41,606


2015: 42,350


2014: 123,879

2015: 118,723

Office Vacancy

2014: 16.8 percent

2015: 16 percent

Hotel occupancy

2014: 69 percent

2015: 66.1 percent