Housing Complex

Private Employment in America Finally Overcame the Recession. In D.C., It’s Way Up Already.

chart1It's no secret that D.C. fared better than much of the country during and after the recession. But a new report out from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer shows just how much better the District made out than the United States as a whole.

According to the report, in the first quarter of 2014, national private-sector wage and salary employment finally reached its pre-recession level, six years after the recession began. Over that same time period, the number of private-sector jobs in the District increased by 9.7 percent, or nearly 45,000 jobs. D.C. was responsible for nearly all of the region's job growth in that time; in the suburbs, private employment grew by only 0.5 percent.

The OCFO report attributes this job growth largely to a few sectors. According to the report, D.C. began the period with a much larger share of its private-sector jobs in the six areas where employment grew both locally and nationally: professional services, business services, education, health, arts, and food services. And these sectors grew faster in D.C. (14.3 percent) than nationally (8.9 percent). Within these areas, 93 percent of D.C.'s job growth came in education, food services, and health.

But of course there are other factors at play. Federal employment has steadily declined over the past few years. The number of federal government jobs in D.C. slid from 213,258 in 2011 to 208,575 in 2012 to 206,042 in 2013; this month, it's down to 199,400. Some of those jobs have been replaced by private-sector jobs. And in the time period during and after the recession, D.C.'s population has grown consistently, gaining around 1,000 residents per month. It's something of a virtuous cycle: As employment rises, more restaurants, shops, and residences open, leading more people to want to move to the city.

And D.C.'s situation looks so rosy only if you're looking at private-sector employment. Compare the city's overall employment, which has seen its rate of growth decline over the past year and a half to well below the national average, to private-sector employment, which has remained strong:

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Charts from the OCFO report

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