Max Smith, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - In the tug-of-war for jobs across the Potomac, a top local analyst says Northern Virginia is winning.
The director of George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis Stephen Fuller says, "Northern Virginia has been outperforming suburban Maryland in the generation of jobs" for 30 years, with the differences becoming even more pronounced lately.
"On a population base they're relatively equal, on a jobs base they're very unequal," Fuller says. "Northern Virginia is just way out there. It has over 30,000 new jobs in the last year, where suburban Maryland is running about 1,500," Fuller says.
The Maryland counties included are Montgomery, Prince George's, Frederick, Calvert and Charles. Anne Arundel and Howard counties are considered part of the Baltimore area for these purposes.
"Northern Virginia also, believe it or not -- why we have more congestion in Northern Virginia -- it actually has a better transportation system. More capacity on the interstate highways, more expansion on the Metro, and that will actually help position Northern Virginia competitively within the region, probably for the next ten years," Fuller adds.
Plus, Northern Virginia has lots of long-haul flights out of Dulles Airport.
"Fairfax County reflects that. It's economy is much more diverse and stronger, generating significant job growth compared to Montgomery County which we sort of think of as equals," Fuller says.
"The reputation of Maryland and Virginia as good places to do business has come out differently. Whether it's true or not," he says.
"The economies are different, but on top of that the tax environment is different, the costs of doing business in Maryland are greater than in Virginia.
"Some of this is laudable. Environmental regulations are better I believe in suburban Maryland than in Northern Virginia, but it does end up taking an extra year to get an office building built. There isn't much office building construction going on in suburban Maryland. There's a lot in Northern Virginia, and companies look around to where the action is and where they think their businesses can thrive.
"Virginia tends to be viewed as more entrepreneurial and more favorable to business. Somewhat lower regulatory costs. Labor costs are a little bit less because the unions aren't as strong."
Fuller says both Maryland and Virginia will be hit hard if the so-called budget sequestration kicks in, since half the cuts would be in Virginia's strength of defense, while the other half would be from Maryland's strength of government employment.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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