My Two Cents is a weekly opinion column from Bethesda resident Joseph Hawkins. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.
If you watch Leggett is making the appeal that these new jobs rely on transit improvements to service new areas of development, including White Flint, the White Oak Science Gateway in East Silver Spring and, presumably, downcounty areas that would be redeveloped around the Purple Line.
His message is clear: If our new Republican governor kills the Purple Line project and doesn’t fund transit projects like it, he’s killing Montgomery County’s chances at mega-job creation.
Estimating how many new jobs are squeezed out of a new development project is not my expertise.
But 100,000 is a big number. Where does it come from? It’s one Leggett has been using for a while now and it would be virtually unprecedented in our area.
Just look at D.C. From 2004-2014, the booming city added 54,275 new jobs. Will a Purple line, a new rapid transit system and whatever other transit improvements come along allow us to double that?
Here are some job numbers that have appeared recently:
- 3,000 NIH jobs. NIH announced that 3,000 more employees could be headed to its main Bethesda campus over the next 20 years. But the 3,000 number doesn’t represent new jobs, rather current NIH employees moving from off-campus facilities onto the main campus.
- 27,000 Purple Line jobs. Several weeks ago, touting the Purple Line as a “job engine,” a Montgomery County news release made the claim that the project would create 27,000 new permanent jobs along the line’s route in both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
- 10,000 or 43,000 White Oak Science Gateway jobs. Plans for the White Oak Science Gateway project tout various conflicting new job numbers. When it comes to Leggett’s 100,000, one has to assume he’s including the upper-end projection in his claim.
I have no idea how developers, planners, and politicians kick out these numbers. On the other hand, look at the real Montgomery County job numbers over the past 11 years. These statistics also include job numbers for D.C., Fairfax County, and Arlington County.
According to our own statistics, in 2004, Montgomery County had 508,207 jobs. In 2014, we ended with 511,201 jobs, or a net of 2,994 jobs.
Over the 11-year span, the highest number of jobs ever in the county was in 2006, when the jobs number stood at 525,273. Thanks to the Great Recession, the worst jobs number for the county was in 2010, when the jobs number stood at 501,131.
Global economic calamities aside, where’s the evidence Montgomery County can create the job numbers Leggett is throwing around? Where’s the evidence that anyone in the region — jurisdictions with better job creation records than Montgomery — can do that?
Over the same 11-year span, D.C. added the 54,275 new jobs mentioned before. Fairfax County added 33,070 new jobs. Perhaps the Silver Line will allow them to create a lot more?
Eventually, the Purple Line will be built. I support it. I just wish people, especially Leggett, would stop with the hyperbole: “I’ve got 100,000 jobs sitting here.”
Joseph Hawkins is a longtime Bethesda resident who remembers when there was no Capital Crescent Trail. He works full-time for an employee-owned social science research firm located Montgomery County. He is a D.C. native and for nearly 10 years, he wrote a regular column for the Montgomery Journal. He also has essays and editorials published in Education Week, the Washington Post, and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. He is a serious live music fan and is committed to checking out some live act at least once a month.