A Spotlight on the Mid-Atlantic States: The Kiplinger Letter

Solid rebound in tech, hospitality, healthcare and other fields fuel hiring, but a slowing economy will equate to only modest growth.

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To help you understand what is going on in the Mid-Atlantic states and what we expect to happen in the future, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

The Mid-Atlantic region stands to slow this year but still cope fairly well.  Employment growth in the Mid-Atlantic states will downshift from last year's strong gains but will be positive. A resurgence in healthcare hiring, which in many states started in earnest in 2023 as the pandemic’s severity waned, will continue to account for most of the job gains. Big investments from Amtrak’s $16 billion renovation of the Northeast Corridor line from D.C. to New York City should benefit the region.

Delaware is in for solid job growth of 1%, as it keeps drawing new residents from other states. Hospitality is booming and hiring briskly. Transport and logistics have cooled a bit but still employ 46% more workers than before the pandemic. A network of hydrogen fueling stations for freight shipping along the Delaware River, the Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub, promises to fuel a surge in construction jobs.

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Pennsylvania had the highest job growth in the region in 2023 and this year it should see job growth of 1%, despite a tight labor market. Schools are struggling to hire enough teachers to return to pre-pandemic staffing. A flurry of start-ups in tech, healthcare, apparel and other fields should drive plenty of hiring in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

New Jersey will be close behind Delaware and Pennsylvania, with 0.9% employment growth, as its labor market continues to rebound swiftly from the pandemic. Healthcare jobs are booming. Outside of hotels and casinos, the hospitality sector has hit a new peak in employment, surpassing its pre-COVID-19 record. Tech and business services are off, though, and private education jobs are flattening out after a big post-pandemic surge. The Garden State gained residents last year thanks to lofty (legal) immigration.

Maryland might see more jobs if it could find more workers. At 1.8%, its jobless rate is the lowest in the nation. Still, employment should grow by 0.9%. Healthcare and hospitality can’t find enough people to hire. On the plus side, efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay are showing promise, which bodes well for fishing, crabbing and other seafood industries, plus tourism. Also, the University of Maryland is using airspace over the bay to test how drones can safely coexist with airplanes.

New York is in for a slowdown, with an expected 0.7% employment bump, far lower than last year’s 1.9%. Construction, manufacturing, trade and transport, finance, and professional and business services all look soft. Residents keep leaving the Empire State at the fastest clip in the nation, though the rate fell significantly in 2023. Arts, entertainment and recreation sectors haven’t recovered from COVID. But healthcare is going strong, and food service has completely rebounded from the pandemic. Unlike New Jersey and Connecticut, housing prices are likely to stay mostly flat in New York, despite lean inventories. 

West Virginia can expect decent job growth, in the range of 0.7%, in 2024. It has the most job openings in the region and is struggling to find enough workers in healthcare and education, even if more residents are moving in than leaving. However, as the demographically oldest state in the country, its population continues to fall. The recent boom in coal mining has likely run its course, with coal prices down now. But as in Delaware, investments in hydrogen fueling infrastructure could boost hiring.

Washington, D.C. has an expected job growth of 0.7%. Some types of jobs have recovered sharply from the pandemic. But every sector that depends on the regular inflow of commuters from Maryland and Virginia is suffering since so many workers, especially federal workers, continue to work remotely. Hospitality, retail, and arts and entertainment are all down sharply from before COVID. Plus, service cuts to the Metro transit system loom later this year if its administrators can’t make up the lost fare revenue. (Keep that in mind if you’re planning a visit.)

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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David Payne
Staff Economist, The Kiplinger Letter

David is both staff economist and reporter for The Kiplinger Letter, overseeing Kiplinger forecasts for the U.S. and world economies. Previously, he was senior principal economist in the Center for Forecasting and Modeling at IHS/GlobalInsight, and an economist in the Chief Economist's Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce. David has co-written weekly reports on economic conditions since 1992, and has forecasted GDP and its components since 1995, beating the Blue Chip Indicators forecasts two-thirds of the time. David is a Certified Business Economist as recognized by the National Association for Business Economics. He has two master's degrees and is ABD in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.