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District of Columbia Unemployment Holds Steady at 5.4 Percent for January

Monday, March 11, 2019

(Washington, DC) – The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services reported today that the seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in January; this was unchanged from the reported December rate.

The District’s preliminary January job estimates show a decrease of 11,400 jobs, for a total of 783,600 jobs in the District. The private sector decreased by 10,500 jobs.  The public sector decreased by 900 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 steadfast in giving Washingtonians a fair shot at economic prosperity by providing residents with direct access to employment opportunities and workforce training,” said DOES Director Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. “We remain encouraged as continued efforts ensure that quality training, education and career development services are attainable by all District residents.”  

The number of employed District residents was unchanged at 381,900 in December 2018 to 381,900 in January 2019. The civilian labor force for the District was up 400 from 403,500 in December 2018 to 403,900 in January 2019. The labor force participation rate was unchanged from 70.0 percent in December 2018 to 70.0 percent in January 2019.

Employment Overview

  • Educational and Health Services sector decreased by 4,000 jobs, after a decrease of 500 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 129,400 jobs, jobs increased by 500 or 0.39percent from a year ago.
  • Financial Activities sector decreased by 200 jobs, after a decrease of 200 jobs in the prior month.   With employment at 29,300 jobs, jobs are down by 100 or 0.34 percent from a year ago.
  • Information sector decreased by 300 jobs, after an increase of 100 in the prior month. With employment at 19,700 jobs, jobs are up by 1,400 or 7.65 percent from a year ago.
  • Manufacturing sector remained the same, after not having an over-the-month change in the prior month.   With employment at 1,300 jobs, jobs have remained the same from a year ago.
  • Construction sector decreased by 200 jobs, after a decrease of 100 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 15, 100 jobs, jobs are down by 100 or 0.66 percent from a year ago.
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector decreased by 800 jobs, after an increase of 200 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 32,800 jobs, jobs are down by 200 or 0.61 percent from a year ago.
  • Other Services sector decreased by 1,000 jobs, after a decrease of 700 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 75,100 jobs, jobs are down by 200 or 0.27 percent from a year ago.
  • Professional and Business Services sector decreased by 1,200 jobs, after an increase of 200 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 167,900 jobs, jobs are up by 2,500 or 1.51 percent from a year ago.
  • Leisure and Hospitality sector decreased by 2,800 jobs, after a decrease of 100 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 76,700 jobs, jobs are up by 1,700 or 2.27 percent from a year ago.

Labor Force Overview

  • The number of employed District residents was unchanged over the month at 381,900. The civilian labor force increased by 400 to 403,900.
  • One year ago, total employment was 381,100 and the civilian labor force was 404,500. The number of unemployed was 23,400, and the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.


NOTES: The January 2019 final and February 2019 preliminary unemployment rate and survey of jobs for the District of Columbia, will be released on Monday, March 22, 2019. 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 arrived 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. 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 2017 annual benchmark revisions.
Industry employment data is not seasonally adjusted.