D.C.’s unemployment rate this August increased to 11.2 percent, a level not reached since June of 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This increase in D.C.’s unemployment rate contrasts with a decline in the regional unemployment rate over the past few months.
The unemployment rate in the Washington region, which encompasses parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, fell from 6.5 percent in June to 6.2 percent in July and 6.0 percent in August, BLS reported.
The August rate for the Washington region was among the lowest unemployment rates nationwide for large metropolitan areas, according to BLS data.
However, in August, D.C. surpassed the national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent and had the seventh-highest unemployment rate when compared to the 50 states, according to BLS.
Changes to the unemployment rate can result from fluctuations in both the size of the labor market and the size of the job market. While the Washington region is gaining jobs in the federal government and contracting sector, its unemployed labor force decreased by 7,500 people, according to George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis Web site.
But the transfer of jobs to suburban residents and the large population lacking higher education within D.C. creates the disparity between regional and D.C. statistics, according to The Washington Post.
In addition, students in the region quit their summer jobs in August to return to school, which also reduces the size of the labor pool and improved the statistics for the unemployment rate. This shows that the lower regional unemployment rate does not necessarily reflect a revived economy, according to the Post.
Ethan Kolodny, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, said he is worried about what will happen after he graduates and enters the job market.
“I think that it’s going to take a few years before we see the economy turn around,” Kolodny said.
Members of the AU community at the AU Career Center and in student-based initiatives work to address issues that arise as a result of the current economic climate.
“Though unemployment in the D.C. metropolitan area may seem to be improving, the Career Center continues to prepare students for tough times ahead,” said Bridget O’Connell, the AU Career Center’s director of outreach and marketing. “If students intend to be employed by May, they must focus on their job search now and remain tenacious,”
AU students are also taking steps to reach out to the community and improve the job market.
Jeremy Cherson, another junior in the School of Public Affairs, is working on The D.C. Project, which addresses both unemployment and inefficient energy use, he said.
The D.C. Project encourages contractors to hire workers from poor parts of D.C. with low income and high unemployment rates to install green technologies to homes and office buildings, Cherson said.
“That’s kind of a holistic approach to creating jobs and also fighting an environmental problem all at the same time,” he said. “It’s one of the many things that can certainly help lower the unemployment rate in D.C.”
Marisa Kendall contributed to this story.