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New survey data show D.C. employment is underperforming compared to the region

June 28, 2019
  • Yesim Sayin

In contrast to administrative data, new survey data show that D.C. employment is underperforming compared to the rest of the metropolitan region.

Last week, we published an analysis of employment trends in the region based on administrative data firms file with the Unemployment Insurance program, known as the Quarterly Survey of Employment and Wages (QSEW). This analysis showed that in 2018, the District outperformed the surrounding jurisdictions in employment.

On June 21, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly employment numbers for May 2019 based on the Current Employment Statistics (CES). CES data—the first information on employment to be released (about three weeks after the end of the month)—are based on a survey and subject to revisions. Some of these revisions are large enough to reverse the observed trends. But CES are the first data released on employment trends and this data tell us that District employment growth is now underperforming the regional growth.[1]

During the 12 months that ended in May 2019, D.C. employment grew at 0.51 percent compared to 0.82 percent in the Washington metro area. CES data suggest that the pace of employment growth declined rapidly between May of 2018 and 2019. In May of 2018, D.C. outperformed the region by an annualized growth rate of 1.28 percent.

Watch for a deep dive in the June 21 figures early next week.


Yesim Sayin

Executive Director
D.C. Policy Center

Yesim Sayin is the founding Executive Director of the D.C. Policy Center.

With over twenty years of public policy experience in the District of Columbia, Dr. Sayin is recognized by policymakers, advocates and the media as a source of reliable, balanced analyses on the District’s economy and demography.  Yesim’s research interests include economic and fiscal policy, urban economic development, housing, and education. She is especially focused on how COVID-19 pandemic is changing regional and interregional economic interdependencies and what this means for urban policy. Her work is frequently covered in the media, including the Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, WAMU, and the Washington City Paper, among others.

Before joining the D.C. Policy Center, Dr. Sayin worked at the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Financial Officer leading the team that scored the fiscal impact of all legislation the District considered. She frequently testified on high profile legislation and worked closely with the executive and Council staff to ensure that policymakers fully understand the fiscal implications of their proposed legislation. Yesim also has worked in the private sector, and consulted with international organization on a large portfolio of public finance topics.

Yesim holds a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University, located in Istanbul, Turkey. 


[1] Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Area includes two divisions: Silver Spring–Frederick–Rockville, MD Metropolitan Division which includes Frederic and Montgomery Counties, and the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV division which includes the District of Columbia; Calvert, Charles, and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Rappahannock County, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Warren counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park in Virginia, and Jefferson County in West Virginia.