D.C. Unemployment Lowest in Nearly 4 Years

8/20/2012, 4:22 p.m.

Estimates Show 8.9 Percent Unemployment Rate, Dramatic Improvements in Wards 5, 7 & 8

The District's unemployment rate for July dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.9 percent - the lowest it has been since February of 2009.

In addition, preliminary federal estimates of July employment figures for the District show significant improvement over this time last year in parts of the city that have suffered from the highest unemployment.

"I'm thrilled that our efforts to reduce unemployment in the District continue to pay off - and especially in areas that have been hit hardest by the recent recession," said Mayor Vincent Gray. "Having unemployment under 9 percent citywide is a huge milestone, and I'm proud of the work we've done to put D.C. residents back to work."

The report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the total number of jobs in the District grew by 13,100 in July and that the number of unemployed District residents decreased by 600.

In the last year, the aggregate unemployment rate in Wards 5, 7 and 8 has dropped three full percentage points, from 19.2 percent to 16.2 percent. The trend has been most dramatic in Ward 8, where unemployment has dropped by more than four percentage points since July 2011 (from 26.3 percent to 22.5 percent). Over the same period, unemployment in Ward 7 has dropped from 17.8 percent to 15 percent and the rate in Ward 5 has dropped from 14.6 percent to 12.2 percent.

Gray noted that the District's job growth in recent years has been largely fueled by economic diversification - with growth in private-sector jobs outpacing growth in federal jobs. Statistics from the District's Office of the Chief Financial Officer show that, in the fourth quarter of 2012, there were 4 percent more private-sector jobs in the District than at the same time last year, while there were 1 percent fewer federal jobs over that same period.

"We are having success in building the New Economy I envision for the District by diversifying away from traditional sources of employment - such as the federal government and related jobs - and encouraging growth in sectors like technology, health care and hospitality in the District," Gray said. "As our One City Action Plan makes clear, we will continue and redouble those efforts to position ourselves well for an increasingly competitive global economy."