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Washington Metro’s Unemployment Rate Shows Steady Improvement, Drops to 3.9 Percent

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
(Washington, DC) - The District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) reported today that the preliminary December job estimates show an increase of 2,100 jobs for a total of 2,625,500 jobs in the Washington Metropolitan Division. The private sector decreased by 300 jobs, while the public sector gained 2,400 jobs. The Washington Metropolitan Division's not seasonally adjusted December 2015 unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, which is 0.3 percentage point lower from the November rate of 4.2 percent. The Washington Metropolitan Division unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in January 2015, but has since decreased by 0.8 percentage points to the current 3.9 percent, a key indicator that the Washington area economy continues to strengthen.
 
Over-the-Month Area Civilian Labor Force, Employment and Unemployment Data
 
The total civilian labor force in the Washington Metropolitan Division for December 2015 was 2,610,600, of which 2,507,900 were employed and 102,700 were unemployed.  The unemployment rate was 3.9 percent.  The total civilian labor force in the Suburban Ring of the communities surrounding the District of Columbia was 2,902,400, of which 2,800,900 were employed and 101,500 were unemployed.  The unemployment rate for this area was 3.5 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 3,291,100, of which 3,165,000 were employed and 126,100 were unemployed.  The unemployment rate for this area was 3.8 percent.  For the month, the unemployment rates for the Washington Metropolitan Division, the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Suburban Ring decreased by 0.3 percentage points each.
 
Over-the-Year Area Civilian Labor Force, Employment and Unemployment Data
 
The Washington Metropolitan Division’s civilian labor force increased over the year by 33,600, while the number of employed increased by 48,200, and the number of unemployed decreased by 14,600. The civilian labor force for the Suburban Ring increased over the year by 44,600, while the number of employed increased by 58,300, and the number of unemployed decreased by 13,500.  Meanwhile, the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area’s civilian labor force increased by 51,300, while the number of employed increased by 68,700 and the number of unemployed decreased by 17,300.  For the year, the unemployment rate for the Washington Metropolitan Division decreased by 0.7 percentage points, the unemployment rate for the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area decreased by 0.6 percentage points and the unemployment rate for the Suburban Ring decreased by 0.5 percentage points.
 
Metropolitan Division’s Job Growth
 
Total wage and salary employment in the Washington Metropolitan Division increased over the month by 2,100 jobs. The private sector decreased by 300 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2,400 jobs over the month.  Four private sectors along with the federal and state government had over-the-month job gains. Job gains were registered in other services which gained (600 jobs); trade, transportation, and utilities gained (3,100 jobs);manufacturing gained (600 jobs); financial activities gained (500 jobs) and leisure and hospitality gained (100 jobs).  Five private sectors along with the local government had over-the-month job losses. Job loss was registered in professional and business services, which lost (1,800 jobs); educational and health services lost (200 jobs) ); information lost (600 jobs);and  mining, logging and construction lost (1,400 jobs).  . Government overall  gained (2,400 jobs) over the month. State government gained (100 jobs), while the federal government increased  by (3,800 jobs), and the local government decreased by (1,500 jobs).
 
During the last 12 months, employment in the Washington Metropolitan Division increased by 48,400 jobs. The private sector added 39,800 jobs, while the public sector gained 8,600 jobs. Professional and business services reported the greatest year-over growth, up 25,700 jobs. Five other private sector industries along with the federal, state and local government posted year-over job gains: Educational and health services gained (6,700 jobs); mining, logging and construction gained (2,700 jobs); other services gained (4,100 jobs); leisure and hospitality gained (2,800 jobs); and financial activities gained (1,500 jobs). Trade, transportation and utilities recorded the greatest year-over downturn, down 1,500 jobs. Two other private sector industries posted year-over job loss: information down (1,000 jobs) and manufacturing down (1,200 jobs).
 
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 2014 annual benchmark revisions.