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District of Columbia Unemployment Improves from a Year Ago to 5.5 Percent in December

Friday, January 18, 2019

(Washington, DC) The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services reported today that the seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in December; this was down 0.1 percentage point from the reported November rate.

The Districts preliminary December job estimates show a decrease of 1,400 jobs, for a total of 799,100 jobs in the District. Both the private sector and the public sector increased 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 encouraged by the strides made to reduce the unemployment rate in the District,” said DOES Director Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring Washingtonians have access to quality workforce training and career services, giving them a fair shot at economic prosperity. 

The number of employed District residents was up 400 from 381,900 in November 2018 to 382,300 in December 2018. The civilian labor force for the District was up 100 from 404,500 in November to 404,600 in December. The labor force participation rate was unchanged from 69.9 percent in November to 69.9 percent in December.

Employment Overview

  • Educational and Health Services sector decreased by 500 jobs, after an increase of 1,300 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 138,200 jobs, jobs decreased by 800 or 0.58 percent from a year ago.
  • Financial Activities sector decreased by 200 jobs, after an increase of 100 jobs in the prior month.   With employment at 31,600 jobs, jobs are up by 1,400 or 4.64 percent from a year ago.
  • Information sector increased by 100 jobs, after not having an over-the-month change in the prior month. With employment at 19,600 jobs, jobs are up by 1,100 or 5.95 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 1,400 jobs, jobs are up by 100 or 7.69 percent from a year ago.
  • Construction sector decreased by 100 jobs, after a decrease of 200 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 16, 000 jobs, jobs are up by 500 or 3.23 percent from a year ago.
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector increased by 200 jobs, after a decrease of 300 jobs in the prior month. With employment at 34,000 jobs, jobs remained the same from a year ago.
  • Other Services sector decreased by 700 jobs, after a decrease of 200 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 74,100 jobs, jobs are down by 1,700 or 2.24 percent from a year ago.
  • Professional and Business Services sector increased by 2,000 jobs, after a decrease of 200 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 169,000 jobs, jobs are up by 1,400 or 0.84 percent from a year ago.
  • Leisure and Hospitality sector decreased by 100 jobs, after a decrease of 1,600 jobs in the prior month.  With employment at 78,400 jobs, jobs are up by 1,800 or 2.35 percent from a year ago.

Labor Force Overview

  • The number of employed District residents increased by 400 over the month to 382,300. The civilian labor force increased by 100 to 404,600.
  • One year ago, total employment was 377,700 and the civilian labor force was 401,400. The number of unemployed was 23,700, and the unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.

NOTES: The December 2018 final and January 2019 preliminary unemployment rate and survey of jobs data along with the 2018 Annual Benchmark data for the District of Columbia, will be released on Monday, March 11, 2019. Historical jobs and labor force estimates for the District of Columbia and detailed labor market information is available at: http://does.dc.gov/page/labor-statistics

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 Districts 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 Districts Unemployment Compensation Law administrative records and other data.

Data reflects 2017 annual benchmark revisions.

Industry employment data is not seasonally adjusted.