Wages are on the rise in the District, and by more than almost any other large jurisdiction in the nation.

The average weekly wage in the District was $1,277 in the first three months of 2005, up $52 from the same period of 2004. That was the eighth-largest dollar gain in the nation, the Labor Department said. It was less spectacular in percentage terms, however. Workers in Alexandria got bigger percentage raises than workers in the District, with a 5.1 percent raise to $972.

Other local counties with strong wage gains were Arlington, up 3.5 percent to $1,286; Loudoun, up 3.1 percent to $1,005; and Howard, up 3.1 percent to $875. Laggards were Prince George's, up 1.1 percent to $797; and Frederick, down 2.4 percent to $725.

The same report, based on unemployment insurance filings, tracked the number of jobs in each large county. From the first quarter 2003 to the first quarter of 2004, Prince William County had been No. 1 in the nation in percentage job growth, with a 5.5 percent gain. In the year that ended in the first quarter of 2005, Prince William's gain was still healthy -- 3.5 percent -- but was good enough to rank only No. 45 among large counties. The nation as a whole added jobs at a 1.7 percent pace.

-- Neil Irwin