Business Climate Survey

Survey Finds Maryland Business Optimism on the Rise

Revenue & Hiring Rise, but Taxes & Workforce Shortage Are Obstacles to More Growth
Mar 6, 2019



ROCKVILLE, MD (March 06, 2019) — Perceptions of Maryland’s business climate have improved dramatically since 2011, with local business owners reporting more sales, revenue growth, and hiring across the state. That is one of several findings in the 2018 Maryland Business Climate Survey, a partnership between the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute and the nonpartisan Maryland Public Policy Institute. This marks the first time since 2011 that full year findings from the survey have been made available. Read the full report at

The survey, conducted over the course of 2018, captured a wealth of insights from 250 Maryland business executives and reveals a business climate that is strengthening in spite of business leaders’ pessimism about state tax policy and workforce shortages.

“Robust revenue and jobs growth can do wonders for a state’s business climate, even in the face of high taxes and workforce shortages,” said Richard Clinch, Ph.D., author of the survey and Executive Director of the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute. “Maryland’s proximity to the nation’s capital and its highly-educated workforce are twin engines driving Maryland’s economy and confidence among Maryland employers.”

Key Survey Findings:

Big Improvement Since 2011: The number of Maryland firms with a positive view of Maryland’s business climate jumped from 30 percent in 2011 to 51 percent in 2018. The number of firms rating Maryland as anti-business or business unfriendly dropped from 35 percent in 2011 to just 16 percent in 2018.

Taxes are a Concern for Businesses: Sixty-four percent of businesses reported being negatively impacted by Maryland’s taxes, which is nearly unchanged from 2011 when 64 percent reported a negative impact. Twenty-four percent reported being negatively impacted by state regulations, a decline from 36 percent in 2011. Thirty nine percent of firms considered taxes to be the greatest disadvantage to doing business in Maryland, with 17 percent of businesses citing Maryland’s business environment and 13 percent citing regulations.

Optimism, Revenues on the Rise: Maryland businesses are optimistic about the future and reported that they expect their market, revenues, and employment to grow in 2019. Two-thirds (67 percent) expect the market they serve to expand in the coming year, 69 percent expect their revenues to grow, and 52 percent expect to add jobs.

Tight Labor Market: Maryland businesses are experiencing workforce shortages across all skills and education levels. At the lower-skill level, 21 percent reported difficulties in finding unskilled workers or laborers. At the middle-skill level, 30 percent of firms reported difficulties in finding manufacturing or skilled workers. At the higher-skill level, 18 percent reported difficulties in finding engineers or scientists and 10 percent reported difficulties in finding computer programmers or analysts. Read the full survey findings at

“The Maryland General Assembly approved $8.5 billion in incentives last year for Amazon’s HQ2, so they should have no problem enacting tax relief for the businesses that actually choose to work in Maryland,” said Christopher B. Summers, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute. “To truly make Maryland a national economic powerhouse, broad-based tax relief for Maryland employers is essential.”    

About the Maryland Public Policy Institute: Founded in 2001, the Maryland Public Policy Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research and education organization that focuses on state policy issues. The Institute’s mission is to formulate and promote public policies at all levels of government based on principles of free enterprise, limited government, and civil society.  Learn more at