Labor Data: Washington, D.C. Shows Economic Gains

July 22, 2019
Author: ThinkWhy Analyst

ThinkWhy It Matters

The Washington, D.C. share of Tech jobs (15.9 percent) is approaching those seen in the well-known tech hub of San Francisco (17.0 percent share). This is unexpected in an area known for high volumes of government-industry jobs.

Alongside competing for San Francisco in the tech arena, D.C. is now also competing with San Francisco in hourly wage levels for all employees. Employers looking for tech talent can expect compensation levels to also be in line with established tech cities like New York City and San Francisco.

Washington, D.C. Metro Job Growth Momentum

Washington, D.C.’s monthly job gain showed a mild increase at 2,200 in June 2019, after posting flat to negative results in April and May 2019 reporting. The metro area produced approximately 25,000 jobs from June 2018 to June 2019 for an annual job growth of 0.8 percent. The unemployment rate in the area increased to 3.2 percent in May 2019 from 2.9 percent in April 2019 but remains steady with the numbers seen during May 2018. Comparing a five-year history, the annual job growth in June 2019 saw a moderate drop of about 60 basis points (1.3 percent versus 0.8 percent). The pace of job gain started slowing early this year as the year-to-date annual average gain is approximately 26,000 jobs per year. During optimal economic conditions, the metro area has the capacity to produce up to 70,000 jobs per year.

“With today’s low unemployment, there are more open positions than qualified candidates to fill them. Competition for talent is intense, and companies need to find unique ways to recruit and retain technology professionals,” states Matt Deneroff of Robert Half Technology.


• With a low unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, the metro area wage growth increased to 3.6 percent in June 2019.

• The hourly wage level in the metro area is second to San Francisco at $35.49 among the 10 ThinkWhy highlighted markets this month

Industry Performance

• Professional and Business Services (23.2 percent share) grew by 1.7 percent annually in June 2019. The next largest industry is Government (21.0 percent share) grew by 0.1 percent annually in June 2019.

• Tech jobs (15.9 percent share) led industry job growth in the white-collar segment during June 2019 at 2.3 percent.

• Among the blue-collar categories, Leisure and Hospitality added jobs above the five-year historical average.

• Government services are still producing jobs, but at a slower pace than average historical growth. Though the area is known for government jobs, tech jobs are on the rise, and investors should take note.

Jobs-to-Permits Ratio

Demand for both single and multi-family properties has gone down in the metro area for June 2019, as supply outpaces demand. The pace of single-family permits declined but multi-family permits are peaking in the area as of May 2019. Multi-family developers should use caution and consider dialing back. Rent is in downward trend growing at 2 percent annually.

Gain more insight into employment statistics, including job growth and hot and cold employment sectors, with ThinkWhy's Major Market Activity Report for June 2019.