Study: Commuters took 62 percent of new D.C. jobs

|
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

More than 60 percent of the jobs created in the District in a span of nearly five years went to commuters, D.C.'s chief financial officer has found, a potentially troubling sign for a city that has experienced a recent surge in population.

The District's Office of Revenue Analysis estimated that nonresidents filled 62.4 percent of the 37,400 jobs created in Washington between December 2007 and September 2012.

Anirban Basu, CEO of Sage Policy Group, said he thought commuters had an advantage because of their education levels.

"If you look at the nature of jobs created in the District, a lot of them have been in segments that require elevated levels of education. In the D.C. area, those folks tend to live in suburban communities."
-- Anirban Basu, CEO, Sage Policy Group

"If you look at the nature of jobs created in the District, a lot of them have been in segments that require elevated levels of education," Basu said. "In the D.C. area, those folks tend to live in suburban communities."

Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce, also blamed workforce development.

"The city still has challenges around D.C. residents being prepared for the kinds of jobs that we have in the city," Lang said. "Businesses always want to hire the best person for the job, and we've got to ensure that D.C. residents are better prepared."

Lang said she thought the District was improving its education system, but she cautioned the city has to be patient.

"It took a long time for our education system to get into the mess that it was, and you're not going to turn that around overnight," she said.

The estimate covered a period in which the city's population exploded by, according to one estimate, 54,000 residents -- a jump of about 10 percent.

It also ran in parallel to a time when the city's unemployment rate climbed 3.1 percentage points from 5.6 percent.

And although the District's current jobless rate -- 8.5 percent -- is well below its December 2009 peak of 10.5 percent, the city's economists warned that the trend of improvement is slowing.

"D.C.'s job growth is decelerating," the forecasters wrote, noting that the District slightly trailed its suburbs and the nation as a whole in its job creation pace.

The estimates came as the nation's unemployment rate declined to 7.7 percent and as Congress deliberates a resolution to the "fiscal cliff," which would trigger severe spending cuts that District officials say could debilitate the city's economy.

The threat of the cuts has prompted independent economists to predict that District unemployment will climb marginally during the 2013 fiscal year, which began in October.

But some economic models show the city could experience a far sharper spike that could leave it with a jobless rate of up to 10.7 percent.

"This has everything to do with how the fiscal cliff is resolved, assuming that it is resolved," Basu said.

Follow all of Alan Blinder's reports on DC government. Follow him on Twitter at @alanblinder and have his latest stories emailed to you each morning in our Local News e-newsletter. Email Alan at ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com.
View article comments Leave a comment