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First Click, Maryland -- How many new jobs?

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Thursday, July 29, 2010:

The Agenda
The Maryland governor's race this week has produced few headlines, but the not-so-subtle message evident in Gov. Martin O'Malley's public schedule was the same one he's pushed almost every week since the campaign began: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

O'Malley and Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin were up early Monday for the first jobs announcement of the week, a $5 million cybersecurity job training program. Every day since has brought another jobs event, and on Thursday, the theme continues. In Baltimore, the governor will tout new leases in office buildings to be built in the redevelopment of State Center -- a 15-year plan that the state says will create 5,400 jobs in Baltimore, as well as years of construction work for thousands more.

Every time O'Malley utters the word "jobs," a recitation follows of Maryland's "40,000 new jobs since January," and his administration's litany of efforts to create and retain jobs, including a hiring tax credit and small-business lending program.

MDUnemployment.gifThe 40,000 figure comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which, based on preliminary data from June, has nudged Maryland's unemployment rate down to 7.1 percent. It's better than most other states, but to listen to O'Malley tell it, one might have a tough time discerning how many of those 40,000 new hires are directly attributable to his administration's efforts.

As of Wednesday, Maryland companies had created 227 jobs since March that qualified for the state's hiring tax credit. And so far, the administration has closed 12 deals worth $6 million in new lending to small businesses.

It's not 40,000, but Christian Johansson, O'Malley's secretary of business and economic development, said Wednesday that he can point directly to 10,000 jobs that his department has had a direct hand in creating or retaining in the state in the past 12 months. The department's goal for the next 12 months? An additional 12,000.

Thumbnail image for o'malley-kickoff.jpgA pivotal question in the three months remaining before the November election is whether Maryland -- and the nation -- will continue to create jobs, or if cyclical summer hiring will slow down and flatten or reverse.

As the number of new hires tied directly to Maryland incentives show, that's largely a question out of O'Malley's control.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Ehrlich back on the trail after back surgery
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Ehrlich mug.jpg"For the back-slapping politician, back surgery can pose some additional risks. Just ask former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.," writes The Post's John Wagner. "Ehrlich (R) was back on the campaign trail Wednesday after having what an aide described as minor neck and back surgery Friday to address a long-standing problem dating to his days as a college football player. Ehrlich, who is trying to get his old job back from Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), addressed the subject briefly with reporters after an event in Essex. The surgery, he said, was 'the revenge of college football and it put me out of commission for a couple of days.' "

Maryland campaigns for governor clash over environment
"Maryland's two leading gubernatorial candidates engaged in a brawl over their environmental credentials Wednesday as former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) visited a riverside bar in eastern Baltimore County," Wagner writes. "Ehrlich's visit to Essex was designed to highlight the most heralded environmental initiative of his tenure -- the so-called 'flush tax,' passed in 2004 -- that is helping fund upgrades to sewer and septic systems across the state. The two campaigns started sparring even before Ehrlich arrived at Brewer's Landing Bar and Grill on the banks of the Black River. That was largely due to a media advisory issued by Ehrlich's campaign indicating that he would take aim at O'Malley for diverting $155 million this year intended for the upgrades to help balance the state's general fund budget."


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By Aaron C. Davis  |  July 29, 2010; 9:16 AM ET
Categories:  First Click  
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