Keys to D.C.’s Confidence: Housing Market, Transience
A few days ago, we took note of the oddity of D.C's high consumer confidence relative to suburban dwellers, as reflected in a survey done by Clarus Research for the Greater Washington Board of Trade. For an explanation, I called up the Center for Regional Analysis' Lisa Sturtevant—heir apparent to this guy—who had some thoughts on the data.
First of all, there might be some problems with the data, Sturtevant says. 800 people is an okay sample size, generally speaking, but if only a few hundred of them came from the District, it's hard to come to any concrete conclusions.
But if we accept the survey tells us, there are a couple things that could explain the difference. One: D.C.'s residential real estate prices are on the way up. "One thing that D.C. has going for it is that the housing market is back, and that makes people feel better, even if they're renters," Sturtevant says. And two: District residents tend to be more transient, and people starting new phases in life tend to be more excited about the future. "If you have just moved, that's associated with optimism generally," she finishes.
The survey did reach cell phones as well as land lines, so it's reasonable to believe that it picked up the younger folks that Sturtevant is talking about. It's also worth noting, though, that the newcomers could be bringing up the average—if they're feeling supremely confident, and are also employed at a higher rate, that could hide greater pessimism among the 10.4 percent of people who still don't have jobs (and want them).