Employment In Baltimore

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baltimore City’s 2015 Annual unemployment rate was 7.7%. Compared to Maryland’s 2015 annual rate of 5.2%, Baltimore City has the 4th highest unemployment rates of any county in the state (following Worcester County, Somerset County, and Dorchester County). In regards to race, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2013 that in Baltimore City, 37% of young black men were unemployed, in comparison to 10% young white men unemployed in the city in the same age group. There is an inherent divide in these unemployment numbers, and the local hiring initiative in Baltimore City attempted to combat the profound need for job opportunities in Baltimore City, but hasn’t done the best job.

The Local Hiring Ordinance in Baltimore City requires employers benefitted by city contracts and subsidies to take measures to hire Baltimore City residents. The law requires businesses and all of their subcontractors to meet with Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) within two weeks after the contract is awarded to complete an “Employment Analysis.”  The Employment Analysis determines how many jobs will be required to complete the contract or project, and how many of those jobs will require new hiring. The local Hiring ordinance only applies to new jobs/hiring, and at least 51% of the new jobs required for the project/contract must be Baltimore City Residents. The new jobs are posted with MOED only for a period of 7 days, and the business/subcontractor is required to submit monthly employment reports with information on the number of current workers, new workers, and the number of Baltimore City residents working on the project.

The issue is how many of these jobs are actually being filled by Baltimore City residents and how far the city is going to implement and investigate claims into the Local Hiring Ordinance. Baltimore City residents need and deserve fair job opportunities and the Local Hiring Ordinance should be enforced as is, but should also be observed and held accountable for the opportunity the ordinance creates.

From a policy standpoint, the ordinance should be considered in the light of the unemployment rates for Baltimore City residents, and maybe every single job awarded by the City of Baltimore should be required to hire Baltimore City residents, instead of only the majority of new hires, which turns out to be an extremely small number of Baltimore City residents actually hired.