- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Falling D.C. unemployment ‘good news,’ not great
Question of the Day
New labor statistics show the District’s unemployment rate continues to decline — from 8.9 percent in July to 8.8 percent in August — although the city still lags behind the national rate of 8.1 percent and nearly 1 in 4 residents of Ward 8 cannot find work.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray coyly referred to the “good news” during his biweekly press briefing last week, but he had to wait until Friday to unveil the embargoed numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of unemployed D.C. residents dropped from 31,700 to 31,200, according to the mayor’s office. Mr. Gray touted six straight months of decreasing unemployment in the city and a drop from 10.5 percent unemployment in August 2011, a positive trend that he hopes to sustain despite federal spending cuts set to take effect in January.
Maryland saw its unemployment rate rise by 0.1 percent to 7.1 percent, and Virginia held steady at 5.9 percent in July and August.
Mr. Gray has pointed to workforce development as one of the cornerstones of his administration and frequently touts his “One City One Hire” program, which encourages local companies to hire unemployed city residents in exchange for financial incentives.
Yet unemployment remains high in the city’s eastern wards, at 22 percent in Ward 8, 14.7 percent in Ward 7 and 11.9 percent in Ward 5, according to preliminary figures provided by the D.C. Department of Employment Services. While still high, the unemployment rate has dropped by 2 to 3 percentage points in each of those wards over the past year.
Each of the city’s five remaining wards had an unemployment rate under 10 percent as of August, with Ward 3 faring the best at 2.2 percent.
Mr. Gray reiterated his call Friday to “grow and diversify” the city’s economy because the District’s job situation remains “complex.”
“To back off now would be foolhardy, especially given the very real possibility of devastating federal budget cuts on the horizon,” Mr. Gray said.
In recent remarks, the mayor has touted economic diversification as a way to preserve a robust job market in the District while the federal government looks at sequestration, a series of austere cuts to spending that could place once-reliable government and contracting jobs in the region in jeopardy.
Mr. Gray said this week that the District has made “such substantial gains in reducing unemployment in the city, but one of my fears is that we’re starting to go back the other way.”
The D.C. Council delivered a setback Wednesday to one plank of Mr. Gray’s plan to grow the private sector. In its first legislative session since a long summer recess, it edited out a tax exemption for investors who inject cash into tech startups from a bill the mayor had promoted energetically as a way to bring tech entrepreneurs to the District.
Although city lawmakers passed other tech-related incentives contained in the bill, they decided that it was unfair to provide tax relief to wealthy investors over other sectors of the city populace and criticized open-ended parameters of the bill, such as tax breaks for existing investors instead of just new ones who would be compelled to invest in the District.
Mr. Gray and council member David A. Catania, at-large independent, argued that the council was throwing money away because tech companies will move to business-friendly Virginia and leave the District with no tech-based tax revenue at all.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Medicare trust fund to last 4 years longer: Obama administration
- ACLU: Unprecedented U.S. spying has chilling effect on reporters and sources, weakens accountability
- Rep. Mike Rogers: Lock Israel-Palestine negotiators in a room
- Conservative group warns Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe not to go it alone on Medicaid expansion
- Number-crunchers put GOP chances of retaking Senate at 60 percent: report
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Scott Pinsker
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Computer glitch caused odd Saturday release of D.C. guns ruling
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq