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Job-growth survey projects city to still outpace state and nation


Job growth in Baltimore should continue to outpace the state and nation during the third quarter, according to a survey of employers scheduled to be released today.

Forty-eight percent of companies in Baltimore and Baltimore County surveyed by Manpower Inc. plan to add staff between July and September, according to the staffing firm's quarterly report. About 6 percent of employers expect to reduce staff while much of the rest say they will keep current staffing levels.

The hiring expectations for the second quarter showed similar results for Baltimore, though 10 percent of employers expected layoffs. A year ago, 36 percent of employers expected to add staff in the third quarter, while 1 percent said they would reduce it.

In Maryland, 41 percent of employers expect to add jobs during the third quarter while, nationally, 31 percent plan to hire, according to the survey. Milwaukee-based Manpower surveyed 16,000 companies nationwide; it did not release the number of employers it interviewed in Maryland or Baltimore.

Maryland and the Baltimore area have benefited from stable job growth because of federal spending on defense as well as strength in health care and other industries. Maryland's 4.3 percent unemployment rate in April remained below the nation's 5.2 percent.

"We're still seeing improving employment" in Baltimore, said Amanda Wingard-Phillips, an economist who analyzes Maryland trends for Economy.com. "Baltimore is on good ground."

Industries that should experience the most job growth in Baltimore include construction, transportation, education, services, retail trade and manufacturing, according to Manpower.

Job fair

Daycon Products Co., for example, plans to add 16 or 17 employees after a job fair this week, said Lisa Kennedy, human resources director.

Daycon, an Upper Marlboro-based cleaning and maintenance supplies company that runs a retail store in Timonium, plans to increase its 150-person staff by more than 10 percent. That is unusual growth for the company, Kennedy said.

Baltimore business professionals will continue to see more job prospects, said Mitch Halbrich, senior manager in Spherion Professional Recruiting's Baltimore office.

Halbrich, who recruits for several businesses, said the demand for professionals such as accountants, bankers and information technology specialists exceeds the supply. Those sectors have experienced steady growth as Baltimore's economy has shifted from manufacturing to one that also embraces the service industry, he said.

The employment market for the local service industry, Halbrich said, is now as good as it has been in the 24 years he has been recruiting.

"If you compare [job growth] to two years ago, it's awesome," Halbrich said. "I see no signs of this slowing down."

The reasons for local job growth are numerous.

Baltimore is especially benefiting from expansions at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and in the defense industry, said Wingard-Phillips of Economy.com, based in West Chester, Pa. The hot housing market, medical research expansion and the spinoff from the Washington area's economic growth also has contributed to the strength here, she said.

Following national developments, Baltimore's employment market also has improved because many firms are filling positions that had been eliminated during the economic downturn at the beginning of the decade, Wingard-Phillips said.

Could be better

Baltimore "job levels bottomed out in mid-2003," she said, "and have been [mostly] trending up since then."

But based on improvements to the economy, Wingard-Phillips believes Baltimore job prospects could be better. She does not believe the hiring trend here has kept pace with the economy's strength.

And, although Baltimore's job growth currently exceeds national and state figures, that trend is expected to flip during the next year or two, she said.

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