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Washington DC Unemployment Rate

Washington DC Unemployment Rate

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Washington, D.C.'s unemployment rate averaged about 7.6 percent in 2014. The District's unemployment rate remained significantly higher than the national rate of 5.6 percent for 2014. Unemployment in Washington, D.C. also exceeded that of most major Eastern cities, including the New York City unemployment rate of 6.4 percent.

In December of 2014, the BLS reported an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent for Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. Unemployment, Post-Recession
The recession of 2008 hit Washington, D.C. hard. Prior to that year, the District's unemployment rate remained consistently at about 5.5 percent, only slightly higher than the national average of 4.5 percent.

Once the recession hit, Washington, D.C. saw a violent spike in unemployment, but stayed on par with the employment trends for the U.S. as a whole. At their peak, the District's unemployment rates hit 10.4 percent in November of 2009, which was fairly comparable to the US unemployment rate of 9.9 percent at the time.

Although Washington, D.C.'s unemployment rates mirrored national trends early on in the recession, the city felt the effects of the economic downturn much longer than the rest of the country.

For example, while U.S. unemployment rates began to decline steadily in early 2011, Washington D.C. unemployment rates hit another peak of 10.4 percent in August of 2011. After that, the city's unemployment rates began dropping.

However, while the unemployment rates of most cities have nearly returned to pre-recession levels, Washington, D.C. still has a ways to go. As of December 2014, the unemployment rate is almost 2 percent higher than it was in the District in 2007.

The Role of Local Industries
The government sector plays a prominent role in Washington, D.C.'s economy; this sector was largely unscathed by the recession of 2008. The government employed 234,800 Washingtonians in 2014, 62 percent of the District's total labor force.

After several months of negative employment growth last year, Washington, D.C.'s government sector finished 2014 with a December growth rate of 0.6 percent. The sector's modest growth rate in 2014 is the result of cutbacks at the state level, tempering the benefits of expanded federal employment.

On the down side, several lagging economic sectors in the District have hurt its employment prospects. The manufacturing sector showed the largest decline in employment in 2014, dropping by 22.2 percent from December of 2013 to December of 2014. However, manufacturing accounts for only 0.2 percent of Washington, D.C. jobs, so the overall impact is minimal.

Additionally, the financial sector showed no growth in employment in December of 2014. As with manufacturing, it accounts for only a small percentage of jobs in the District.

In the future, job growth in several expanding sectors will help reduce unemployment in the region. The construction sector can expect a boost from major development projects and prolific homebuilding in the area's suburbs. The construction sector's 2014 employment growth rates already reflect this trend — the number of construction jobs grew by 5.8 percent.

The current tech boom has been a plus for Washington, D.C.'s information and professional and business services sectors. This trend began in the last few years and is expected to continue. The expansion of the federal government has steadily increased the demand for tech and information-related services. In 2014, the information sector experienced employment growth of 1.4 percent, while the professional and business services sector grew by 3.2 percent.

A key measure of labor supply, the unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed but actively seeking employment and willing to work. Use the links below to see unemployment trends from the 28 major metropolitan markets:



Atlanta Detroit New York City San Francisco
Boston Houston Philadelphia Seattle
Chicago Los Angeles Pittsburgh Washington, D.C.


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