Report: Downtown Baltimore gained 10,000 jobs in 2012

Downtown Baltimore gained 10,000 jobs in 2012 — after losing the same number of jobs in 2011, according to the annual State of Downtown report to be released Thursday by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.

"At the very least, this is a correction," said Kirby Fowler, the organization's president, who was skeptical of the loss reported in 2011. The same firm, Nielsen Co. LLC, calculated both this year's and last year's job numbers for the Downtown Partnership.

There are 113,100 workers within a one-mile radius of the intersection of Pratt and Light streets, according to the report. Baltimore "held its rank as the 15th-largest employment center among the top 25 largest U.S. metro areas," the report said.

The numbers do not reflect estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor, which determined that the entire city gained about 5,000 jobs last year.

The federal government uses a payroll survey to arrive at its estimates. Nielsen's data is largely derived from its proprietary database of businesses. Nielsen contacts the businesses in its database by phone and asks for employment numbers.

Despite downtown's apparent job growth, the office vacancy rate held steady at about 18 percent, the Downtown Partnership said. Companies are using less space per employee than they used to, Fowler said.

As more downtown commercial buildings are converted to residential use, the office vacancy rate should drop significantly, he said.

The population of the downtown area, including Harbor East, Federal Hill and much of Mount Vernon, remains unchanged from 2011 at about 40,000 people, the report said. Downtown apartment occupancy remains strong at more than 96 percent.

For Fowler, the story of Baltimore's downtown in 2012 was its advancement as a cultural destination.

The Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District was created last year, Everyman Theatre moved downtown and the Redwood Trust building was purchased by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Co. for its future home.

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