In 2017, overall employment in Howard County reached 150,495 positions, an increase of 1.9% from 2016. The professional and technical services industry composed the greatest number of jobs, with 29,400 positions. This sector also had one of the highest wages in the county, at $106,080, which greatly exceeded the 2017 average county wage of $69,472.

The second- and third-highest employment industries in Howard County in 2017 were represented by the retail trade, and health care and social assistance, respectively. The county’s greatest job growth was in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, increasing by 8.9% between 2016 and 2017. While this industry had an average annual wage of only $27,248 in 2017, this represents an increase of 9.6% since 2016.

Employment in administrative and waste services represents the second-highest employment increase in Howard County, with 5.2% job growth and a 2017 annual wage of $52,208. Employment growth in the manufacturing industry followed administrative and waste services, having 4.8% growth and an annual wage of approximately $87,984 in 2017.

Total employment in Anne Arundel County reached 219,038 positions in 2017, an increase of 2.1% from 2016. Retail trade represented the greatest number of jobs in 2017, with 33,120 positions having an average wage of $30,992 — significantly below the average county wage of $57,200. The second- and third-highest employment sectors in Anne Arundel County were health care and social assistance (29,925 positions), and the accommodation and food service industry (28,834 positions), respectively.

Between 2016 and 2017, the county experienced the greatest growth in the transportation and warehousing industry, with a 13.4% increase in employment, and an average wage of $62,764 in 2017. Employment in real estate, rental and leasing represented the second-highest increase in Anne Arundel County, having 7.9% job growth and an annual wage of $48,100. Increases in education services employment followed closely, behind real estate, with 7.2% growth and an average wage of $43,836 in 2017.

Looking forward to 2018 in central Maryland, the health care and social assistance industry is expected to have the highest growth rate of 2.5%. The second-highest employment growth rate of 1.9% is expected in the professional, scientific and technical services industry, followed closely by construction, with growth, anticipated at 1.8% in 2018.

These 2018 estimates align more closely with current employment in Howard County, where professional, scientific and technical services positions, as well as health care and social assistance positions were, in the top three employment sectors for the county in 2017.

In Anne Arundel County, health care and social assistance represented the second-highest employment sector in 2017. The most-significant declines in employment in the central Maryland region are anticipated in the federal civilian (-2.5%), utilities (-1.8%) and farm industries (-0.8%).

Daraius Irani is chief economist at Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute. He can be contacted at 410-704-6363 and dirani@towson.edu.