This week, a respected Maryland-based company announced that it is instituting a voluntary layoff program to thousands of its employees, representing the potential for significant job loss throughout the state and the region.
It's a company that is dedicated to innovating, to building on previous successes to create novel products that surpass what came before. It is a company that invests heavily in its products and a company that is highly regulated.
But it's not a biopharmaceutical company.
Lockheed Martin's announcement, which directly affects 6,500 people around the country, resonates because it's an example of a company pushing forward, but still struggling. Lockheed is part of America's economy and it's part of the global economy, and it's a reminder that none of us are immune to pressure.
The timing is also notable, coming right before today's release of a study from Sage Policy
Group of the economic and fiscal impact of proposed rebates in Medicare Part D to the state of Maryland (where Lockheed is based, supporting 2,000 jobs in the Maryland/DC/Virginia region).
According to the Sage report, given a scenario based on $112 billion in Medicare Part D rebates over 12 years (as was scored by the CBO), Maryland's economy would support 3,600 fewer workers by 2021; these workers would have otherwise earned roughly $230 million that year.
Overall, the Sage report says, Maryland's economy would support 24,600 fewer "job years" (total years of lost employment) over the course of a decade.
The potential job losses in Maryland that could be associated with Lockheed's cutbacks represent a blow to the state's economy. Unfortunately, it's not the only blow that the state's workers have seen in recent years. In fact, according to the report, Maryland lost more jobs than any other state in the union, in terms of percentages, between May 2010 and May 2011.
Based on the Sage report - which measures the potential impact of proposed Medicare rebates on the biopharmaceutical sector - now is not the time to subject Maryland's workers to more uncertainty, especially when other sectors are facing similar challenges.
The economic crisis is improving, but it is not over. In Maryland and throughout the country, we simply cannot afford additional job losses in industries like Lockheed's and like ours - industries that provide high-quality jobs and significant tax revenues at the state and federal level.