Stewart Thomas, 44, has been out of work since June and says he has done "nothing really, little odd jobs if I can," since then. He and his wife provide for their five children in their Northeast home with $160 a week in collective unemployment checks.
Thomas has relatively no skills and no transportation to get to the available jobs listed in District unemployment binders. Most of the work is in places such as Vienna, Oakton, Merrifield. "I'd go if the bus could take me there," he laments.
For people like Thomas, the job outlook for the 1980s contains some good news, but mostly bad news. The good news is the number of jobs in the Washington area will expand at a rate greater than that of the nation in this decade, and by 1985 the unemployment rate will range between 3 1/2 percent and 5 1/2 percent, economists predict.
The bad news: Most of those jobs will be outside of Thomas' community, and unskilled, inner-city blacks like him will not be equipped to perform them. a
The bulk of the bad news is for youths.
"It is hard to derive any hope for unemployed youth, especially unemployed male black youth in the District, either from trends in employment and population change or from trends in the location of population growth," according to a study by the Center for Municipal and Metropolitan Research.
Because more people are expected to move farther from the city during the 1980s, most new jobs will follow them there, the study said.
"Distance alone -- leaving aside racial prejudice, fears of crime and the competition of local youth -- effectively foreclose these jobs to the District's unemployed black youth."
The study notes two other trends, both of which won't spell relief for youths, black or white. An increasing proportion of available jobs will require professional, technical, managerial and administrative skills, the study said. "There may, of course, be some indirect benefit insofar as this trend carries with it an increase in the number of unskilled service and sales jobs," the report added.
In addition to other problems facing black youths, "They must also face greater competition within their own generation than probably has ever been true before in American history."
However, the report provides some good news for skilled women and blacks, such as "the rising labor force participation rate of women in the young adult age groups, the relatively high wages and employment status of women, the accelerated upward moobility of blacks and a steady climb in the proportion of the area's jobs that are professional, technical, managerial or administrative."
Those jobs comprised 28 percent of the Washington area total in 1960, 35 percent in 1970, 37 percent in late 1974 and "it may well be over 40 percent by 1980," the report said.
Most of that employment will be in the services division, including education, legal and medical care and business services, which is expected to increase by 38 percent between 1974 and 1985, followed by government public administration, 23 percent, and wholesale and retail trade, 18 percent, according to the D.C. Department of Manpower. Others with lesser increases will be finance, insurance and real estate, construction and transportation, communications and public utilities.
The service industry is expected to increase its lead as the area's largest employment sector over government, from 32.3 percent in 1974 to 33 1/2 percent in 1985. Government will constitute 24.3 percent of employment by the middle of the decade, according to the manpower report.
White collar employment during the same period will rise from 67.8 percent of employment to 69.3 percent, the study said.
Two factors will affect employment growth in the area, the study said. While rising personal incomes and more leisure time are expected to stimulate the area's tourism industry, "the federal government . . . is expected to be less of a stimulus to increased employment in the next decade than in the 1960s as administration of certain social programs is shifted to state and local governments and as federal policy is directed to limiting the expansion of the federal payroll," the manpower report said.
The financial industry is expected to grow, in part because of Washington's developing influence as a national and international financial center, the report continued.
The wholesale and retail trades will see a lower rise in employment because of "the growing number of self-service stores and the widespread introduction of labor-saving innovations such as computerized checkout and inventory controls," the report said.
The construction industry, however is expected to remain cyclical, the report said. Slow growth in that area "is due in part to the contract nature of the work such as the Bicentennial and Metro construction projects."