Chart of the week: Since January 2023, D.C. has lagged the nation in total private and total nonfarm job growth

May 03, 2024
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Recently, the District has lagged the nation with respect to total nonfarm and total private employment growth.

As the chart above shows, between January 2023 and March 2024, total nonfarm and total private employment in the United States grew by 2.2 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Employment growth in D.C. was weaker.  Total nonfarm employment grew by 0.7 percent, while total private employment grew by even less—0.3 percent. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between March 2023 and March 2024, it is possible that D.C. experienced zero growth in total nonfarm employment.

These trends mark a departure from the recent past. Between 2010 and 2020, D.C. frequently outperformed the nation in total nonfarm and total private employment growth. Even during the Great Recession and in its wake, or between 2008 and 2012, the District’s total nonfarm employment grew by almost 6 percent, whereas the nation’s total nonfarm employment contracted by nearly 2.5 percent. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, D.C. has fared less well when compared to the nation. Going forward, finding ways to re-invigorate job growth should be a top priority when thinking about how to restore the city’s competitive edge.