The District government is considering forcing all its contractors to list job openings with area state employment agencies in order to provide more complete information to the unemployed, a spokesman for the mayor's office said yesterday.
Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr., in a statement read by Knox Banner, executive director of the District's Office of Business and Economic Development, said the city's unemployed and underemployed suffer from a lack of information about jobs in the region and from psychological barriers to working in unfamiliar parts of the metropolitan area.
The statements were prepared for a public hearing on a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments draft economic development paper.
"I am sure, although we have not completed a study, that the number of residents of Anacostia working in Northern Virginia is very, very small," Barry said in his statement. "But that should not be so. The new jobs are there in large numbers."
Barry pointed out that state employment services list less than 20 percent of the area's new jobs and suggested the mandatory listings to address that problem.
Furthermore, Barry said, local governments need to work more closely with private personnel systems to get additional information on job opportunities.
Barry also said that there is a "psychological barrier" that inhibits people from taking jobs in other neighborhoods. "People don't want to enter unknown turf to go to work," he said.
The council's economic development program, which was developed by an advisory committee of local government and business leaders, is geared toward combining regional priorities and policies to spur economic growth and stability.
"The emphasis of the program is to make optimal use of the abundant public and private resources currently available within the region to achieve economic vitality rather than simply attempting to attract sources outside of the region to boost our economy," said D.C. City Council Chairman Arrington L. Dixon at yesterday's public meeting.
Dixon also serves as chairman of the board of the Council of Governments.
Speakers at the day-long conference stressed the importance of regional cooperation, particularly on sewage and transportation issues.
Ioanna Morfessis, Montgomery County's acting director of economic development, said the council effort should "note the lack of sewers in certain areas of the region that could impede the overall economic development of the entire region.
"Better coordination and allocation of sewer availability among jurisdictions should be included as a policy," Morfessis said.
Rep. Joseph L. Fisher (D-Va.), in comments prepared for the forum, said the region's future economic picture will be less dependent on the federal government and linked to a greater extent to the growth of the private sector.
"Washington will be less depression-proof than it used to be," said Fisher, former head of the council. "National economic policies and trends will seem to have a greater effect on our region."
On transportation and energy issues, Fisher said, the council must focus on policies that stress the importance of joint federal and local decision-making. For instance, he said, local citizens, noting tight federal and local budgets, should be willing as mass transit users to bear the brunt of deficits.
Fisher suggested that riders pay for two-thirds of future deficits of the local transit systems with the remainder picked up by a combination of state and local financing.