Fall Market Predictions: The Private Sector Will Sustain DC’s Economy

by UrbanTurf Staff

As fall approaches, there are a number of questions floating around about the DC area housing market. Will the tight inventory in the for-sale market continue? Will the slew of new apartments entering the rental market push rents down? Will the effects of sequestration become more noticeable?

With these questions in mind, each day this week UrbanTurf will be hearing the predictions and trends that local industry professionals believe will play out in the fall market.

Fall Market Predictions: The Private Sector Will Sustain DC's Economy: Figure 1

The Private Sector Will Sustain DC’s Economy

By David E. Versel, AICP, George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis

While sequestration has undoubtedly put a damper on the DC economy this year, the truth is that the Federal government’s influence on the local economy has been in decline since 2010, both in terms of jobs and procurement spending.

Growth over the past two years has instead been driven by the private sector, which in DC proper, has added more than 15,000 jobs since July 2011. Private sector growth in the city has been led by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 7,100 jobs over the past two years; additional growth was seen in professional and business services (+5,400 jobs) and education and health services (+2,400 jobs). The area’s relative strength in these areas should continue to move the economy forward during the fall.

Two other sectors are also poised for growth over the next few months. The construction sector is expected to add jobs, as pressure in the local housing market is leading to more housing starts. Also, hiring in the retail trade sector should increase during the run-up to the holiday season. Along with jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, growth in these sectors will create new opportunities for unemployed workers with lower skill levels. Unfortunately, those filling jobs in such lower wage sectors will continue to struggle to find adequate housing located in reasonable proximity to their jobs. While additional housing production will help, the city’s limited supply of workforce housing will remain a challenge.

While DC’s economy unquestionably faces ongoing challenges from Federal austerity, the strength of the city’s private sector should continue to sustain job growth and, by extension, housing demand in the fall months.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/fall_market_predictions_the_private_sector_will_sustain_dcs_economy/7509


  1. xmal said at 4:09 pm on Thursday September 5, 2013:
    Thank you for the analysis---is it possible to distinguish what portion of the business and professional services serve the Federal government? If it's significant, wouldn't those jobs track sequestration? I worry that similar concerns affect some portion of the hospitality and construction sectors---it's people working for or with the Federal government (or working for or with those people, in turn), staying in those hotels and living in those apartments.
  1. David Versel said at 8:34 pm on Thursday September 5, 2013:
    @xmal: That is a fair question, but one for which data are not readily available. The Center for Regional Analysis has been studying this issue relative to Department of Defense contractors in Virginia, but our analysis did not include DC or Maryland. While there are a substantial number of contractor/subcontractor jobs in Northern Virginia the sequester has not yet had a dramatic impact on their personnel decisions. The long term impacts will depend on what, if any, decisions are made in Congress' current budget negotiations. Your concerns about other sectors are valid as well, as the Federal government is the primary economic base for the region. However, we are expecting to see the region's private sector continue to grow in spite of Federal cutbacks, as the region attracts and grows businesses that come here to take advantage of our highly skilled and educated workforce. Even if the feds to continue to trim jobs and procurement, we still expect to see growth in the region, albeit slower than it would have been otherwise.

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