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Maryland Continues to Lead Nation in Genuine Progress Tracking

Indicator updated to include 2010 data American Public Media Marketplace to air interview with Governor O’Malley tonight

Annapolis, Md. (September 19, 2011) — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)  ― the first state government sanctioned tool of its kind ― has now been updated to include 2010 data. According to the new data, Maryland’s total consumer expenditures improved while the State’s GPI reaped only a very slight increase.    

“Measuring our progress in terms of how it impacts our environment, our economy and our society will help us create a more sustainable future that reflects the values of our citizens and the importance of an improved quality of life,” said Governor O’Malley. “With three years of data now compiled, we are looking at the best ways to incorporate these values into decision-making and we encourage our local partners to do so as well.”  

For 2010, Maryland’s actual Gross State Product (GSP) was $295.3 billion, a 1.23 percent increase over 2009; Maryland’s Genuine Progress, however, increased only 0.25 percent to $146.9 billion. This means that while Marylanders spent more money, they were not necessarily seeing comparable social and environmental benefits.

Even more telling of current national economic trends is a comparison of 2008 to 2010 data.  During that period, Maryland’s GSP increased 5.12 percent while the State’s GPI decreased 1.83 percent, adjusted for 2000 dollars.

“Similar to last year, these results are not that surprising,” said project leader Sean McGuire of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Office for a Sustainable Future. “Money is exchanging hands and economic activity is still occurring, yet we are not experiencing the same increase in our overall societal and individual well-being.  The GPI affords us insight to that condition, the ability to measure this disconnect, and hopefully will inspire us to make the changes necessary to alter this pattern.”

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 economic measurements, such as the Gross State Product.

The GPI incorporates 26 factors in three categories – economic, social and environmental – 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 yearly changes.  Maryland presents the GPI as an educational tool designed to allow the public and policymakers to better balance the true costs and benefits of resource decisions.

The decades-long trend of class separation is among the reasons the GPI has only nominally increased.  For instance, the higher Income Inequality – an indicator that assesses wealth distribution – the greater the divide between the rich and poor.  Another reason is a marked increase in Cost of Underemployment, even though Maryland’s rates are considerably lower than national averages:  From 2008 to 2010, Maryland’s unemployment rate rose from 4.4 to 7.5 percent, and the underemployment rate rose from 8.2 to 11.2 percent.  The downturn in the economy also had significant impacts on Cost of Lost Leisure Time (up 2.55 percent at $12.6 billion) and the added Value of Volunteer Work (down 3.15 percent at $3.3 billion).

The new data does offer plenty of good news when measuring Maryland’s genuine progress in the areas of environment and society.  Both wetlands and forested acres increased, and actual carbon dioxide emissions decreased markedly (8.4 percent from 2007 to 2009), even though the monetary valuation held steady.  A 3 percent decrease in the Cost of Crime (to $1.35 billion) is attributed to a coordinated effort across Maryland state government that has, among other things, resulted in the lowest rates of violent and property crime since 1975. The Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes was also down significantly, by nearly 7 percent over last year and 22 percent since 2002. Improved health care and emergency response, as well as police crackdowns on aggressive driving, have likely contributed to this measure, which includes a nearly 25 percent reduction in fatalities over the same time period.

According to New Economics Institute, Maryland is the only state to have officially adopted the Genuine Progress Indicator, and Governor O’Malley is the first elected official to advocate for the use of the GPI. 

"Governor Martin O'Malley and the state of Maryland are to be commended for taking a path-breaking approach with the implementation of the Genuine Progress Indicators,” said John Cavanaugh, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies.  “These indicators will help all of us measure and preserve the things we truly value ― like time with our families, clean water and investment in our communities."

For the 2010 update, the Maryland GPI Working Group conducted an intensive reevaluation of the data and methodology and recalibrated several of the Indicators, resulting in a change to previous years’ calculations. The Working Group will continue to critically examine methodologies and data of the GPI, and members will also provide important societal elements, such as human health impacts, community engagement and governance.

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, and yearly updated 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 ― along with a helpful new video that explains the indicator ―  is available at the State’s Smart, Green & Growing website, www.green.maryland.gov/mdgpi/.

American Public Media’s Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal will air an interview with Governor O’Malley tonight on National Public Radio. Click here to find a time and station to tune in, or listen on demand beginning tomorrow here.


   September 19, 2011

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office | 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

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.