Maryland Continues To Measure Genuine Progress

Indicator updated to include 2009 data

Annapolis, Md. (February 22, 2011) —  Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), the first state government sanctioned tool of its kind, is now updated to include 2009 data. According to the new data, Maryland’s social and environmental progress increased, but were offset by declines in some economic indicators, resulting in a slight decrease in the overall GPI.

“As we work together to create a stronger, more sustainable Maryland, it is critical that we measure our progress in terms of how it impacts our environment, our economy and our society, and these updated numbers will provide an important baseline for tracking our efforts as we move forward,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “As we begin to incorporate these values into decision-making, this tool will help ensure that we move forward in ways that are to the long-term benefit of Maryland as a whole.”

For 2009, Maryland’s Gross State Product (GSP) was just more than $286 billion, a 3.84 percent increase from 2008. Maryland’s Genuine Progress, however, actually decreased about 1.2 percent to $146.6 billion. Despite the overall decrease, both environmental and societal values actually improved by 2.7 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively. The last time GSP increased while GPI decreased was 1979.

“In looking at some of the data, this result is not too surprising,” said project leader Sean McGuire of DNR’s Office for a Sustainable Future. “There is a general mood in the country that people are seeing economic figures go up, yet still feel as though things are not improving. This sense bears out in the GPI.”

Governor O’Malley launched the Maryland Genuine Progress Indicator in February 2010. This innovative online tool allows policymakers and citizens to more accurately measure the State’s standard of living by including indicators of social and environmental health along with traditional economic calculations. Developed by experts from several State agencies, the Governor’s Office, and the University of Maryland, the GPI is designed to complement – but not replace – traditional, strictly economic measurements such as the Gross State Product.

The GPI incorporates 26 factors in three categories — economic, social, and natural — from the costs of crime to the costs of ozone depletion. Costs and values used in calculating the GPI are based on academically reviewed studies. These numbers are not presented as the ultimate value to society, but rather as a standard against which to measure year to year changes. Maryland presents the GPI as an educational tool designed to allow the public and policymakers to better balance the costs and benefits of decisions on how to use the resources available to them.

One reason the GPI decreased is because of Income Inequality, a number that assesses wealth distribution: the higher the Income Inequality, the greater the separation between the rich and poor. Other reasons included a marked increase in Cost of Underemployment and a decrease in Net Capital Investment. Again, neither trend is surprising considering the national economy.

The new data does offer good news regarding Maryland’s genuine progress in environmental and societal indicators:
- The Cost of Air Pollution dropped $365 million – nearly 65 percent – because 2009 saw only 11 ozone exceedance days as compared with 31 in 2008
- Both Wetlands and Forested acres increased
- Value of Housework went up more than $2.6 billion (9.1 percent)
- Crime value decreased by about $160 million (-10.18 percent)
- Services of Highways and Streets increased by about $170 million (15 percent)

The downturned economy had significant impacts on two values: Cost of Lost Leisure Time increased by about $280 million (2.32 percent) and Value of Volunteer Work decreased by about $470 million (-12.56 percent).

“These indicators show our efforts to save Maryland’s wetlands and forests and keep our natural resources intact for future generations are working,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin, whose agency led the program’s development. “With these new measurements we can choose our priorities in investment and policy making in a more informed manner.”

The Maryland GPI Working Group will reconvene this spring to conduct a critical examination of methodologies and data sources. Once these are finalized, the Indicator will be recalibrated, and the entire 2000 decade will be recalculated. As a result, some of the above numbers will change. The Indicator will be updated for 2010 later this spring, once all necessary data – much of which comes from federal agencies – is available.

The Maryland GPI is based on models developed and published by academic institutions as a means for nations, states, and local governments to more accurately measure their standard of living by taking into account economic, social, and environmental well being. To date, several nations and states have calculated their GPIs, but no other state has developed and applied it as a public, web-based tool as Maryland does today.

The GPI joins a host of innovative interactive tools – such as GreenPrint, BayStat and the Maryland Green Registry – that have been developed for Maryland citizens under Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green & Growing Initiative. The GPI is available at the State’s Smart, Green & Growing website, www.green.maryland.gov/mdgpi/ .


   February 22, 2011

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office | 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov.