Military movement bolsters Maryland job growth

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Photo - FORT MEADE, MD - DECEMBER 16:  U.S. Army police officers stand guard outside the building where the Article 32 hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning is taking place December 16, 2011 in Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning is accused of aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, fraud and related activity in connection with computers.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
FORT MEADE, MD - DECEMBER 16: U.S. Army police officers stand guard outside the building where the Article 32 hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning is taking place December 16, 2011 in Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning is accused of aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, fraud and related activity in connection with computers. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Maryland's job growth over the last several years has been significantly bolstered by the shift of military personnel to facilities in the state -- something Gov. Martin O'Malley and other state politicians can't take credit for.

But the growth was not nearly the boon many predicted the Base Realignment and Closure process would bring.

Between the start of fiscal 2009 on July 1, 2008, and Sept. 15, 2011, BRAC added 19,090 jobs to Maryland's economy, the majority of which were civilian positions, according to Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a spokeswoman with the Department of Defense. To put that into perspective, the state as a whole lost nearly 47,000 civilian jobs during the period, which included the start of the recession, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fiscal 2011 alone, BRAC added 11,091 jobs, while the state as a whole added 13,300 civilian jobs. BLS does not track uniformed military positions.

"It's the largest job growth we've seen since World War II," said Lisa Swoboda, deputy director of military and federal affairs in the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. "Maryland was the largest recipient of civilian job growth within that time in all of DOD."

The BRAC numbers measure the jobs added only on military installations -- uniformed military personnel, civilian Department of Defense employees and contractors embedded in military facilities. It does not account for the other related jobs -- like defense-related contractors -- the state believes were created but is unable to quantify.

For example, Fort Meade in Annapolis was expected to gain roughly 5,700 on-base positions -- 718 uniformed military, 3,339 civilian Defense employees and 1,660 embedded contractors -- and an additional 3,000 to 5,000 off-base contractor positions associated with the Defense Information Systems Agency staff moving there.

Most of these indirect job gains probably have not happened yet, said Anirban Basu, CEO of Sage Policy Group, a Baltimore economic and policy consulting firm that has studied the issue.

"There has been some level of disappointment with respect to the level of impact thus far," he said. "What people have been talking about is an impact of 50,000 jobs."

Because the recession hit just as BRAC was getting off the ground, much of the job growth has been delayed, he said, predicting that it could be 2017 before the full effect is apparent.

The continued growth probably will be modest at best, warned Mike Hayes, director of military and federal affairs for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

And it's possible that the region will never see the job gains that would have been possible without a recession.

"Base realignment has been the meat and potatoes of conversation for many years," Basu said. "A lot of expectations are associated with this, and some of those expectations perhaps exceeded reality."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner