Secret ingredient in Maryland's low jobless rate
Well, it's not really secret. But it's under-appreciated. Jamie Smith Hopkins reports the latest figures on federal procurement spending in Maryland and other states. The Census Bureau is getting better at reporting this stuff on a timely basis. Contractors spent $34 billion in Maryland in fiscal 2009, Smith Hopkins reports, a whopping $9 billion more than in the year before. Credit federal stimulus spending, ongoing boondoggles for homeland security and war and other stuff.
Total federal spending and assistance in Maryland (contracting, Social Security, Medicare, block grants, salaries for federal employees, loan guarantees etc.) surpassed $100 billion. Holy cow! The state's whole economy is only around $300 billion.
Gov. O'Malley likes to take credit for recent job growth and Maryland's low unemployment rate relative to other states. In truth he has little or nothing to do with it. (I would be saying the same thing of a Republican governor making the same claims, as s/he surely would.) The question for Maryland, as I keep saying, is what happens when Washington cuts off the deficit-spending spree?
The data are interesting. ($3.4 million for the "Forensic Casework DNA Backlog Reduction Program." Nearly $1 billion for highway construction. $2.8 million for "earmark grants.") Check out the latest Consolidated Federal Funds Report, which breaks down the numbers by state and spending category and even county, if you want to see them.