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Warehousing is Washington County's fastest-growing industry

Retail, construction lead list of businesses, according to Census report

Retail, construction lead list of businesses, according to Census report

June 26, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Retail is still king, but the arrival of large distribution companies over the last six years has made warehousing Washington County's fastest-growing industry, a U.S. Census report released today shows.

The report, which is released annually and tracks business patterns across the country, shows that jobs in the transportation and warehousing sectors in Washington County nearly doubled between 2002 and 2006, from 2,139 to 4,141.

That growth largely can be attributed to the addition of large distribution centers like Home Depot Direct, Tractor Supply and Staples, said Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

"It's not a surprise," Troxell said about the increase. "Generally, if you look back at the announcements we've made of new companies, that's when Washington County saw a big increase in logistics and warehousing."

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In total, the County Business Patterns report shows that Washington County companies employed 61,994 people in 2006, the latest year for which data is available.

The data does not include railroad workers, agricultural production or most government employees.

The county housed 3,568 businesses in 2006, almost 200 more than in 2002, according to the report.

Of the 3,568 businesses, 662 (nearly 19 percent) were classified in the report as retail establishments.

Only two other Maryland counties, Worcester and Charles, had a higher percentage of retail businesses.

More than 10,000 people, or roughly one in six workers, in Washington County were employed by a retail business in 2006, the data shows.

Health care and social assistance followed retail with just more than 9,000 jobs.

Manufacturing was the third-largest sector with 8,269 jobs in 2006.

While retail and health care jobs stayed relatively steady, manufacturing in Washington County declined by more than 700 jobs from 2002 to 2006.

Troxell said that trend reversed itself somewhat in 2007, when 27 percent of the 1,351 new jobs created in Washington County came in manufacturing, according to the EDC's annual report.

"A lot of local (manufacturing) companies are expanding, which goes against national trends of decline in that sector," Troxell said.

The average annual salary across all industries in Washington County in 2006 was $32,120, the data shows.

That number was significantly below the statewide average of $48,211 but put Washington County about in the middle compared to the state's 22 other counties and Baltimore City.

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