Housing Complex

More Evidence for the Boomtown File

It seems each month brings another allegation of D.C.'s "Boomtown" status as a leeching, federal government-dependent city of excess, and one new set of numbers to counter it. This month, the former category belongs to Mark Leibovich's tell-all on "America's gilded capital," This Town, and the inane reviews that have accompanied it. Fortunately, today we have a little something from Column B.

That comes in the form of the June 2013 D.C. Economic Indicators report, just released by the Office of Revenue Analysis. The data show that, per the recent trend, D.C.'s economy hummed along over the past year, with a 4.4 percent increase in total employment among District residents. But let's break that number down. Here's the change in D.C. employment in a few sectors:

Leisure and hospitality: +1.7 percent
Education and health: +3.8 percent
Professional, business, and other services: +1.2 percent
Real estate: +0.6 percent
Food service: +1.9 percent
Local government: -1.8 percent
Federal government: -1.8 percent

Washington, D.C., still living off the hard work of the American taxpayer. When will we ever learn a little self-sufficiency?

Graph from the economic indicators report

  • Colin

    Aaron, while you keep riding this hobby horse of yours, I fail to see how any of this disproves that DC is hugely dependent on the federal government, and thus the American taxpayer, for its economic vitality.

  • DC=DistrictofCorruption

    Colin, there is no doubt that the federal government is DC's trough. And this city government is not just hugely dependent on it, it is 99.99% dependent. Why does anyone move to DC? Why do tourists come to Washington? It certainly not for the quality of life or the efficiency and availability of services.

  • 666

    god I wish losers like you two would just move out of the city if you hate it so much.

  • Pat

    This article misses the mark by quite a bit. DC's Boomtown status is almost entirely correlated to the activity of the federal government and it's "business" operations.

    It is not simply a matter of the federal government hiring more GS employees. It is about participants seeking favorable status for their company or sector through statutory changes and other lobbying activities, activists seeking greater attention and funding for their causes, tech and IT firms seeking more contracts or trying to gain a foothold in the business of federal contracts. These types of activity require lots of high-skilled employees and because they've all gathered in one region there is greater competition between firms for their talents. These drive up salaries and increase the cost of living.

    Lots of people in the DC area make a lot of money and so because of that are willing to spend it on nice things, hence whey the restaurant industry has boomed, and nicer housing.

    It's a cascade effect and it all starts with the federal government.

  • Wrack

    I'm confused. Everything in this post *supports* the notion that the federal government is the 10 billion pound elephant in the room that is the District's economy.

    I could do without the negative connotations of "gilded capital," as well, but absolutely the federal government is the key cog in our economic engine.

  • John

    In other news, who really cares. It is what it is and haters are gonna hate.

  • http://westnorth.com PCC

    The data are very clear: the fastest growing segment of the city's economy is education & health. Spending on those industries is entirely by locals, for locals, and cannot be tied to federal spending, or lobbying, and has nothing whatsoever to do with what hyperventilating Fox News talking heads say when they blither on about "runaway federal spending."

    No claims were made that the federal government is not *a very big* share of the regional economy. However, growth in the District does not necessarily relate to growth in the federal government. The region is growing, it is growing to some extent because of import replacement, and the region's growth is redistributing to favor central areas over the periphery. To blithely assert, without any sources whatsoever, that growth "is almost entirely correlated to the activity of the federal government" is deliberate obfuscation.

    (If one includes the entire cascade of indirect spending, then the economies of almost everywhere are federally related somehow: e.g., the pizza sold to the CVS pharmacist who filled my grandmother's Medicare-paid prescription. The fact that the regional economy is getting better at leveraging that multiplier effect is good news, though, because it means that our growth is less dependent on increasing the input [federal spending] and becoming more productive at using said input.)

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