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Washington Metro’s Unemployment Rate Improves to 3.6 Percent

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

(Washington, DC) – The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) reported today that the preliminary December job estimates show a decrease of 200 jobs for a total of 2,684,900 jobs in the Washington Metropolitan Division. The private sector increased by 500 jobs, while the public sector declined by 700 jobs. The Washington Metropolitan Division's not seasonally adjusted December 2016 unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, which is down 0.2 percentage points from the November rate of 3.8 percent. The Washington Metropolitan Division unemployment rate was 4.0 percent in December 2015, but has since decreased by 0.4 percentage points to the current 3.6 percent.

Over-the-Month Area Civilian Labor Force, Employment and Unemployment Data

The total civilian labor force in the Washington Metropolitan Division for December 2016 was 2,659,400, of which 2,563,700 were employed and 95,700 were unemployed.  The unemployment rate was 3.6 percent.  The total civilian labor force in the Suburban Ring of the Communities surrounding the District of Columbia was 2,949,800, of which 2,856,000 were employed and 93,700 were unemployed.  The unemployment rate for this area was 3.2 percent.  In the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes the Washington Metropolitan Division and the Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick, Maryland Metropolitan Division, the civilian labor force was 3,347,500, of which 3,232,100 were employed and 115,300 were unemployed.  The unemployment rate for this area was 3.4 percent.  For the month, the unemployment rates for the Washington Metropolitan Division and the Suburban Ring decreased by 0.2 percentage points each, while unemployment rate for the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area decreased by 0.3 percentage points.

Over-the-Year Area Civilian Labor Force, Employment and Unemployment Data

The Washington Metropolitan Division’s civilian labor force increased over the year by 51,100, while the number of employed increased by 60,000, and the number of unemployed decreased by 8,900. The civilian labor force for the Suburban Ring increased over the year by 54,400, while the number of employed increased by 64,100, and the number of unemployed decreased by 9,700.  Meanwhile, the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area’s civilian labor force increased by 62,100, while the number of employed increased by 75,000 and the number of unemployed decreased by 12,900.  For the year, the unemployment rate for the Washington Metropolitan Division and the Suburban Ring decreased by 0.4 percentage points each, while the unemployment rate for the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area decreased by 0.5 percentage points.

Metropolitan Division’s Job Growth

Total wage and salary employment in the Washington Metropolitan Division decreased over the month by 200 jobs. The private sector increased by 500 jobs, and the public sector decreased by 700 jobs over the month.  Two private sectors along with the federal and state government had over-the-month job gains. Job gains were registered in leisure and hospitality which gained 1,300 jobs; and trade, transportation, and utilities gained 2,100 jobs.  Six private sectors along with the local government had over-the-month job losses. Job losses was registered in other services which lost (400) jobs; manufacturing lost (400) jobs; financial activities lost (400) jobs; professional and business services lost (500) jobs; information lost (100) jobs; and  mining, logging and construction lost (1,100) jobs. Educational and health services had no over-the-month job change.  Government overall  lost (700) jobs over the month. State government gained 200 jobs, while the federal government increased  by 1,300 jobs, and the local government decreased by (2,200) jobs.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                 
During the last 12 months, employment in the Washington Metropolitan Division increased by 57,400 jobs. The private sector added 46,800 jobs, while the public sector gained 10,600 jobs. Professional and business services reported the greatest year-over growth, up 23,500 jobs. Five other private sector industries along with the federal, state and local government posted year-over job gains: Educational and health services gained 9,600 jobs; other services gained 1,600 jobs; leisure and hospitality gained 9,100 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities gained 7,000 jobs; and manufacturing gained 400 jobs. Information recorded the greatest year-over downturn, down (2,800) jobs. Financial activities lost (1,600) jobs. Meanwhile, mining, logging and construction had no over-the-year job change. 

Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area Explanations

Estimated Labor Force and Employment for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division includes: The District of Columbia, Virginia Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park and the Virginia Counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudon, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren, Rappahannock and Culpeper; the Maryland Counties of Calvert, Charles, and Prince Georges; and the West Virginia County of Jefferson.

The estimates for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area will be the summation of the estimates for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division (contained in this release) and the Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick, MD Metropolitan Division (to be released by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation).

Data reflects the 2015 annual benchmark revisions.