With a projected increase in holiday shopping and a recovering housing market, Maryland’s economic outlook has multiple positive highlights, according to Regional Economic Studies Institute Executive Director Dr. Daraius Irani.
Irani presented RESI’s findings during the 2013 Economic Outlook Conference, the organization’s premier event, held at Towson University last week.
Maryland reached a milestone in August, regaining 100 percent of the jobs lost during the recession—one of only 16 states to do so. Over the last year, statewide employment expanded 1.7 percent, the largest year-over-year growth rate since the start of the economic downturn five years ago. The professional and business services industry added 16,300 jobs to the economy over the last year, making it the state’s largest employment contributor, according to RESI.
Irani praised recent developments, including the planned Amazon facility in Southeast Baltimore, expected to create more than 1,000 full-time jobs, with wages at up to 30 percent more than the average retail job. “Not all of the jobs we create in our economy should require a Ph.D. or a masters degree. This presents some opportunities across the economic spectrum, as well as an excellent tuition reimbursement program to help workers pursue higher education,” he said.
Irani described the state’s housing market as “generally upbeat,” with home prices increasing by about $16,000 since the last year. Maryland building permits, which represent new construction, rose 12.9 percent between July and August, up 9.3 percent from the previous year.
He emphasized that recovery is ongoing nationally and at the state level and that overall consumer confidence historically remains low. He attributes much of the “lurch” in consumer confidence to party gridlock in Congress and the recent shutdown of the federal government. Still, RESI projects an increase in national holiday retail sales by 4 percent this year, welcome news for Maryland businesses that depend on a boost between November and December.
Irani light-heartedly added, “I encourage you all to go out and shop.”
Courtesy of Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development.