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Maryland Workers Among Best-Educated in Nation; Montgomery Is Top County


WASHINGTON - A Capital News Service article published March 10 correctly reported on the relatively high percentage of advanced-degree holders in Maryland and some of its counties, but incorrectly characterized the people in that survey. The Census Bureau survey applied to all people over age 25. The story, as initially published, appears here.

By Danny Jacobs
Capital News Service
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

WASHINGTON - Montgomery County had the most-educated workforce in the country in 2002, with 29.2 percent of workers there holding an advanced degree, the Census reported Wednesday.

That helped give Maryland the second-highest education level among its workers -- the 14.1 percent of workers here who hold a graduate or professional degree trailed only Massachusetts, where 14.5 percent of workers over age 25 had an advanced degree.

The District of Columbia topped all states the list, with 23.6 percent of its workforce with an advanced degree, compared to 9.4 percent nationwide.

"The quality of Maryland's workforce has been one of our . . . distinguishing factors in promoting interstate commerce," said David S. Iannucci, executive director of economic development for Baltimore County. "We've been talking about it for years."

Howard County was fourth on the list of counties, with 24.7 percent of its workers holding an advanced degree, trailing Fairfax County, Va., and New York County, N.Y., according to the data from the 2002 American Community Survey.

Maryland had three other counties in the top 160: Baltimore County was tied for 60th at 12.9 percent; Anne Arundel County was tied for 67th at 12.3 percent; and Prince George's County was 136th on the list, with 9.1 percent.

In Baltimore City, 8.5 percent of the workforce owned an advanced degree, good for 44th on the list of cities with populations over 250,000.

Government officials and employers cited many reasons for Maryland's high numbers. Federal agencies that are based in the state, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, employ many advanced-degree workers, while universities like Maryland and Johns Hopkins churn out graduate students and recruit workers with advanced degrees.

The state also has a burgeoning high-tech industry.

But workers with advanced degrees can be found in a wide range of occupations, including real estate, medicine, law, biotech and the financial industry in Montgomery County, said Steven A. Robins, chairman of the county chamber of commerce.

"We're very proud of that number," Robins said of the county ranking. "The community really does pride itself on education, so it doesn't surprise to me that people here are educated and motivated."

And because higher-educated people tend to have higher levels of income, the result is a positive effect on the state's economy, said Iannucci, a former secretary of economic development for the state.

"Maryland has had the strongest economy in the Mid-Atlantic region over the last five years, and it's the workforce that makes it possible," he said.

John Czajkowski, president of Management Recruiters in Annapolis, said only one-third to 40 percent of the people he placed in the last year have had advanced degrees. His firm finds jobs for people in Maryland and all over the world.

Even an advanced degree does not ensure a job, Czajkowski said: Companies often use advance degrees only as a way to separate potential applicants for a job.

And sometimes, an advanced degree can hurt an applicant.

"Some employers feel advanced-degree people are 'overqualified,' which always amuses me," said Czajkowski, noting that some applicants leave advanced degrees off their resumes to keep from scaring potential employers away.

But Czajkowski and others believe that the current makeup of the state's workforce, plus an increase in job specialization, will keep Maryland and its counties among the leaders in educated workforces.

"There is a trend that's catching on: As people see the workplace getting more competitive, they see it (an advanced degree) as a way to separate themselves," he said. "The perception is, 'The more education and advanced degrees I get, the better chance I have.'"

Copyright 2004 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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