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District of Columbia Unemployment at 6.0 Percent in March

Friday, April 17, 2020

The data in this report does not reflect the full impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) reported today that the seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate was 6.0 percent in March; this was an increase of 0.9 percentage points from the reported February rate.

The District’s preliminary March job estimates show an increase of 500 jobs, for a total of 800,600 jobs in the District. The private sector increased by 400 jobs.  The public sector increased by 100 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. 
“During this unprecedented time, the Bowser Administration remains committed to ensuring safeguards for residents and businesses are in place to allow a full recovery of the District’s economy,” said DOES Director Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. “As of April 16, the District has seen 66,746 new unemployment insurance claims that have been filed since March 13. These numbers will continue to increase. As we address the employment concerns around COVID-19, our work to deliver critical workforce services continues.”

The number of employed District residents increased by 1,100 from 393,000 in February 2020 to 394,100 in March 2020. The civilian labor force for the District was up 4,900 from 414,400 in February 2020 to 419,300 in March 2020. The labor force participation rate increased by 0.9 percentage points from 71.5 percent in February 2020 to 72.4 percent in March 2020.

Employment Overview

  • Mining, Logging and Construction sector decreased by 100 jobs, after an increase of 200 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 14,500 jobs, jobs decreased by 300 or 2.03 percent from a year ago.
  • Trade Transportation and Utilities sector increased by 400 jobs, after an increase of 500 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 34,400 jobs, jobs increased by 1,900 or 5.85 percent from a year ago.
  • Information sector increased by 100 jobs, after an increase of 100 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 21,00 jobs, jobs are up by 1,300 or 6.6 percent from a year ago.
  • Professional and Business Services sector increased by 1,000 jobs, jobs remained the same as the prior month. With employment at 173,300 jobs, jobs are up by 4,600 jobs or 2.73 percent from a year ago.
  • Financial Activities sector remained the same, after an increase of 300 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 29,700 jobs, jobs are up by 100 jobs or .34 percent from a year ago.
  • Educational and Health Services sector decreased by 500 jobs, after an increase of 3,500 in the prior month. With employment at 130,900 jobs, jobs decreased by 3,300 or 2.46 percent from a year ago.
  • Other Services sector increased by 600 jobs, after a decrease of 300 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 78,400 jobs, jobs are up by 1,500 or 1.95 percent from a year ago.
  • Manufacturing sector decreased by 100 jobs, after an increase of 100 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 1,300 jobs, jobs remain the same as the prior year.
  • Leisure and Hospitality sector decreased by 1,000 jobs, after an increase of 1,600 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 78,500 jobs, jobs decreased by 3,300 or 4.03 percent from a year ago.

Labor Force Overview

  • The number of employed District residents increased by 1,100 over the month to 394,100. The civilian labor force increased by 4,900 to 419,300.
  • One year ago, total employment was 384,800 and the civilian labor force was 408,200.

The number of unemployed was 23,400, and the unemployment rate was 5.7 percent.

NOTES: The March 2020 final and April 2020 preliminary unemployment rate, will be released on Friday, May 22, 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 from 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. In addition, 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.