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DC Unemployment at 5.2 Percent in January

Thursday, March 19, 2020

(Washington, DC) – The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) reported today that the seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in January; this was a decline of 0.1 percentage point from the reported December rate.

The District’s preliminary January job estimates show a decrease of 10,200 jobs, for a total of 794,300 jobs in the District. The private sector decreased by 9,500 jobs.  The public sector decreased by 700 jobs. The numbers are drawn from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through its monthly survey of the District of Columbia’s employers.

“The Bowser Administration remains committed to delivering critical workforce services and training that gives all residents a fair shot towards economic advancement,” said DOES Director Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. “More work continues to be done as we leverage the strengths of our partners - which includes educational institutions, community-based organizations and government agencies – as we build upon our progress in addressing the employment needs of job seekers across the District.”

The number of employed District residents increased by 1,400 from 390,100 in December 2019 to 391,500 in January 2020. The civilian labor force for the District was up 1,100 from 412,000 in December 2019 to 413,100 in January 2020. The labor force participation rate increased 0.1 percentage point from 71.2 percent in December 2019 to 71.3 percent in January 2020.

Employment Overview

  • Mining, Logging and Construction sector decreased by 100 jobs, after decreasing by 1,300 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 14,400 jobs, jobs decreased by 200 jobs or 1.37 percent from a year ago.
  • Trade Transportation and Utilities sector decreased by 1,100 jobs, after an increase of 900 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 33,500 jobs, jobs increased by 900 or 2.76 percent from a year ago.
  • Information sector increased by 400 jobs, after a decrease of 300 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 20,800 jobs, jobs increased by 1,300 or 6.67 percent from a year ago.
  • Financial Activities sector decreased by 600 jobs, after an increase of 200 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 29,400 jobs, jobs have remained the same as the prior year.
  • Professional and Business Services sector decreased by 1,700 jobs, after an increase of 900 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 172,300 jobs, jobs are up by 5,700 3.42 percent from a year ago.
  • Educational and Health Services sector decreased by 2,800 jobs, after a decrease of 5,600 in the prior month. With employment at 127,900 jobs, jobs decreased by 3,100 or 2.37 percent from a year ago.
  • Other Services sector decreased by 1,000 jobs after an increase of 1,200 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 78,100 jobs, jobs are up by 2,300 or 3.03 percent from a year ago.
  • Manufacturing sector decreased by 100 jobs, after remaining the same as the prior month.  With employment at 1,300 jobs, jobs have remained the same as the prior year.
  • Leisure and Hospitality sector decreased by 2,500 jobs after a decrease of 1,700 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 77,900 jobs, jobs are up by 500 or 0.65 percent from a year ago.

Labor Force Overview

  • The number of employed District residents increased by 1,400 over the month to 391,500. The civilian labor force increased by 1,100 to 413,100.
  • One year ago, total employment was 383,300 and the civilian labor force was 406,800.

           The number of unemployed was 23,500, and the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.

NOTES: The January 2020 final and February 2020 preliminary unemployment rate, will be released on Friday, March 27, 2020. Historical jobs and labor force estimates for the District of Columbia and detailed labor market information is available here.

Technical Notes: Estimates of industry employment and unemployment levels are derived through the use of two different monthly surveys.

Industry employment data is derived from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, a monthly survey of business establishments conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US Department of Labor, which provides estimates of employment, hours, and earnings data broken down by industry for the nation as a whole, all states, and most major metropolitan areas (often referred to as the “establishment” survey).

Resident employment and unemployment data are mainly derived from the District’s portion of the national Current Population Survey (CPS), a household survey conducted each month by the US Census Bureau under contract with BLS, which provides input to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program (often referred to as the “household” survey).

Both industry and household estimates are revised each month based on additional information from updated survey reports compiled by BLS. These estimates are benchmarked (revised) annually based on actual counts from the District’s Unemployment Compensation Law administrative records and other data.


Data reflects 2019 annual benchmark revisions.


Industry employment data is not seasonally adjusted.