D.C. had the nation’s third-highest job growth in September

October 19, 2012

Data is split on whether education or government is driving D.C. job growth (Rick Bowmer/AP)

Today’s the day the feds release state-level jobs statistics, and the September numbers have the District adding more jobs than all but two states.

Only Texas and Pennsylvania added more than the 14,200 jobs D.C. added, according to seasonally adjusted numbers. The District had by far the largest over-the-month job growth by percentage (2 percent), ahead of Maine (0.9 percent). The growth, according to Labor Department statistics, was mainly driven by 11,700 additional government employees.

But according to unadjusted numbers released by the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the city added 7,600 jobs in September, all but 200 of them in the private sector. Education jobs — particularly in “colleges, universities, and professional schools” — were by far the largest driver, adding 6,900 jobs for the month. That would suggest a seasonal bounce as higher-ed students come back to classes; the seasonally adjusted numbers show only 2,800 new jobs in the education and health sectors.

Meanwhile, the District’s unemployment rate only ticked down by a tenth of a percentage point, from 8.8 to 8.7 percent, reflecting that while the number of employed D.C. residents increased by 3,700, the city labor force also increased by 3,400. According to ward-level data, unemployment ticked slightly downward in wards 2, 5, 7 and 8 — a tenth of a point in each; other wards remained unchanged.

The jobs numbers show slow but continuing progress on Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s top political priority. But nearly 31,000 District residents remain unemployed, and the jobless rate in wards 7 and 8 stand at 14.5 percent and 21.9 percent respectively.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · October 19, 2012