Perhaps it’s just bad timing, or a lack of perspective. To be fair, the Washington Post is a local newspaper, so its focus on the local economy shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even with that in mind, their story on how the sequestration has harmed the job market in the nation’s capital is rather tin-eared:
The local economy saw only meager job growth in its most crucial industries during the one-year period ended in August, according to a recent Labor Department report that offered fresh evidence that federal spending cuts are taking a toll on the region’s job market.
The professional services sector, which includes government contractors, added 1,300 jobs — the weakest growth seen in the region’s largest industry since 2009-2010.
The area’s second-largest sector, government, gained 1,600 jobs. Its federal government subcategory shed 7,300 positions, suggesting that the growth came from state and local government jobs.
Hard times indeed. How bad is the local job market? The Post’s Sarah Halzack provides the figures from August, the last month available:
The local unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent in August from 5.6 percent in July, but the decline reflected a decrease in the size of the labor force.
The unemployment rate for the rest of the country runs almost two full percentage points above that — where DC gets funds to fuel its “local” economy. Plus, the economy doesn’t look all that stark:
The Washington region added 33,400 jobs overall, with the greatest growth from the leisure and hospitality sector. That industry added 12,300 positions amid a boom in restaurants and bars in the District.
The August job report was revised upward to show a growth of 193,000 jobs nationally. That means that the Washington region got 17.3% of all net job growth. According to the Census Bureau, the greater DC metropolitan area has about five million people, or about 1.5% of the American population. It doesn’t appear that sequestration — which started in March — has been all that terrible for the region.
Plus, let’s not forget this telling chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve last month. This shows the historical trends in median income in DC (red line) in comparison to the national median (blue line):
Maybe the whole country can use a little more of that sequestration, if that’s what has driven the DC jobs market.