The D.C. metropolitan area added a blistering 94,800 jobs in the past year, according to government data released Friday.
The region’s 2.98 percent employment growth rate handily outstripped the nation as a whole, and unemployment rates for July held steady at 5.9 percent in the District, 4.3 percent in Maryland and 3.7 percent in Virginia. Nationally, employment grew at 1.8 percent for the one-year period ending in July.
“That’s extraordinarily impressive; it’s very rare to have this pace of job growth,” said Anirban Basu, chief executive of the Baltimore-based economic consultancy Sage Policy Group. “It’s amazing particularly in light of the fact that unemployment was already low.”
Ann Macheras, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which serves the Washington area, said this is the biggest year-over-year gain since 2000.
The gains came in a broad range of industries, possibly suggesting that the regional job market is diversifying. Local job growth is typically strong in the health-care and professional services sectors, but the past year also saw big jumps in leisure, hospitality, retail and local government jobs.
Northern Virginia still has a much larger job base than either of its neighbors to the north, but the data released Friday suggests that suburban Maryland is growing more quickly.
A study put together by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University found that Maryland’s D.C. suburbs added 35,000 jobs in the past year, resulting in a blistering 3.6 percent growth in the ranks of the employed. The annual gains were spread across nearly every major sector, with particularly impressive expansion in state and local government jobs.
Northern Virginia had a tough time after defense spending started slowing in 2013, but most measures of the economy suggest that the area recovered in the past year.
“We’re doing so much better than two years ago that it’s not even comparable,” said Stephen Fuller, an economist at George Mason University who studies the local economy.
A few companies made big expansions in Northern Virginia this summer, and the gains tended to be in sectors that typically pay well. Pentagon Federal Credit Union filled 500 new positions in Tysons Corner in April, May and June, according to a survey by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Cvent, a Tysons Corner technology company that recently agreed to be acquired, added 121 to its ranks over the same period.
Federal contractors are hiring, too: CACI and Carahsoft added 344 and 150 jobs, respectively, in Fairfax County, according to the economic development authority’s records.
Yet as hiring picked up in the District’s suburbs, job growth in the capital city itself lagged. Washington added a much smaller 8,800 jobs in the past year, a relatively lackluster 1.1 percent growth rate. The strongest growth came from the federal government.
The number of people employed or looking for work increased in Maryland and the District but dropped in Virginia.