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2018 Greater Baltimore State of the Region Report

BMC Newsroom

2018 Greater Baltimore State of the Region Report: Major changes during the past 20 years include growing diversity, educational attainment and an economy in transition.

BALTIMORE, MD (May 14, 2018) – A report being released today by the Greater Baltimore Committee and Baltimore Metropolitan Council, which looks at demographic and other changes that have occurred in the Baltimore region since 1998, finds that the region’s population has become more diversified, a higher percentage of residents hold college degrees, and the economy has transitioned from industrial manufacturing to one driven by technology, medicine, higher-education and service-based businesses.

These major shifts, which are still underway, bode well for the region’s future, the two organizations conclude in the Greater Baltimore State of the Region 2018 Report.

The report also compares the Baltimore Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) to 19 other peer metro regions, such as Atlanta, Dallas and Pittsburgh. The Baltimore MSA includes: Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Howard County, Harford County and Queen Anne’s County.

Other findings in the report, to be released tonight at the Greater Baltimore Committee’s 63rd Annual Meeting and on the two organizations websites, point to several challenges that elected officials and the private sector should watch closely, including declining home ownership rates and increased commute times.

“On the whole, the report found that the Baltimore region has many positive trends that the private sector will be working to support and nurture to ensure the region retains a highly attractive business climate. The region’s strong shift to technology, medicine and the digital economy is particularly promising and shows the innovation and drive of our business community and major educational institutions,” said Donald Fry, President and CEO, of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

“Some findings in the report remind us that the GBC and private sector must continue to explore how we can continue to work with elected officials and others to ensure that the increased wealth and education that some segments of society have experienced helps lift those struggling with rising costs of living and the skill demands of the modern labor market.”

“On the one hand, the regions we analyze in this report are a benchmark for our own success. On the other, these regions represent our competition for attracting and retaining talented people and top employers. We must work cooperatively across sectors and political boundaries to advance our competitive position among our peers," said Mike Kelly, Executive Director, of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

"Over the last twenty years, the Baltimore region has seen notable increases in household income, cost of living, and population diversity. An important question for the next twenty years will be how rising incomes and costs impact our increasingly diverse community. There is a lot of progress to be proud of in this report and our hope is that through cooperation and thoughtful investment in places and people we will see continued improvement in the years to come.”

The report considers a variety of indicators in seven key measures to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the Baltimore region and 19 peer regions. They are: Demographics; Economy; Business; Employment; Education & Workforce; Transportation; and Quality of Life.

Some of the key changes that occurred in the region include:

The Baltimore’s population diversified much faster than its peers. The region’s Hispanic population grew by 125 percent, while the Black or African American population grew by 130 percent. In fact, Baltimore led its peers in Hispanic population growth and saw the fourth highest percentage gain in the Black or African American population since 1998.

The region saw significant improvement in educational attainment. More than 37 percent of the region’s population 25 and older had a college education in 2017, up from 25 percent in 1998. The gains pushed the Baltimore region to No. 7 among the peer group, up from No. 13 in 1998 for the percentage of the population with college degrees. Also among adults 25 and older, more than 26 percent of the population’s highest level of education was a high school diploma in 2017, up from 18 percent in 1998. That improvement moved the Baltimore MSA to the No. 8 position, up from No. 10, among its peer group for high school education.

Business ownership also improved in the 20-year period. The percentage of women-owned firms rose to more than 21 percent, up from 16 percent, while the percentage of Hispanic-owned firms rose to more than 2 percent, up from just more than 1 percent. The percentage of Black-owned businesses rose to more than 5 percent, up from more than 3 percent in 1998.

Per capita personal income and median household income surged between 1998 and 2017 in the Baltimore region. In fact, the region had the second highest growth rate among its peers for per capita personal income, which increased 52 percent to $38,406, up from $25,347. The region experienced the third highest growth rate in median household income, which doubled to $76,788 from $38,361.

The home ownership rate in the region fell to just more than 65 percent, from almost 72 percent in 1998. That pushed Baltimore to No. 8 among the peer metro regions for home ownership, down from the No. 5 spot in 1998.

Average travel time to work increased by five minutes, from 26 minutes in 1998 to 31 minutes in 2017, making average commutes in the Baltimore region the 4th longest among its peers. Ridership on heavy and light rail in the region also declined to 19.8 million from 24.6 million. That pushed Baltimore to No. 10 among its peers for rail ridership, down from the No. 6 spot in 1998.

As Fry and Kelly note in their forward in the report, the State of the Region data and findings will “inform decision makers of strengths that can be leveraged to ensure an attractive business climate and economic vitality, as well as weaknesses that need to be addressed to ensure the region doesn’t falter and become inconsequential compared to its peers.”

The GBC and BMC plan to use the State of the Region Report to develop policy recommendations, competitiveness strategies and programs that promote workforce skills, diversity in leadership and inclusiveness in the economy.

The 2018 State of the Region Report marks the seventh time the GBC has collaborated to publish such a study. The first report was published in 1998 by the GBC and the Greater Baltimore Alliance. Through the years, subsequent reports have been published by the GBC, BMC and the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. The two most recent updates released in 2007 and 2011 were joint efforts of the GBC and BMC.

Note to journalists: Digital files of the infographics and the Top 5 and Bottom 5 charts in the State of the Region Report are available for publication by contacting the media relations contacts listed on this release. Any art supplied MUST carry the source credit line: Courtesy of the Greater Baltimore Committee and Baltimore Metropolitan Council.


The Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) is a regional organization of business and civic leaders that includes businesses, nonprofit organizations and educational and civic institutions. It is the leading voice for the private sector in the Baltimore region on issues relating to economic growth, job creation, workforce development, transportation, the business climate and quality of life. The GBC’s membership is comprised of over 500 member organizations, including large, mid-size and small companies, nonprofits, education and foundations in the Greater Baltimore region.


The Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) works collaboratively with the chief elected officials in the region to create initiatives to improve the quality of life and economic vitality. BMC, as the Baltimore region’s council of governments, hosts the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB), the federal metropolitan planning organization (MPO), and supports local government by coordinating efforts in a range of policy areas including emergency preparedness, housing, cooperative purchasing, environmental planning and workforce development. BMC’s Board of Directors includes the executives of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties, the mayor of the City of Baltimore, a member of the Carroll County and Queen Anne’s County boards of commissioners, a member of the Maryland State Senate, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, and a gubernatorial appointee from the private sector.