The Washington region’s job growth in 2019 continues to be subdued and the average gain in the first four months was 28,200, 20.0 percent smaller than the gain in 2018. Job growth in the region has also been increasingly concentrated both by sector and geography, a trend that extends back to the 2014. The Professional & Business Services and Leisure & Hospitality sectors accounted for nearly all (99.9%) of the average growth in the first four months of 2019. Similarly, job growth has been disproportionately concentrated in Northern Virginia, which captured 91.3 percent of the year-to-date gains.
Population growth in the Washington region and all three sub-state areas slowed in 2018. The region continues to lose residents as a result of net domestic migration and 2018 marked the fifth consecutive year of losses from this component of population change. The rate of net domestic out-migration was more severe in 2018 compared to 2017, but not as sharp as in 2015 and 2016. Of the 15 largest metro areas, the region performed near the middle of the pack, ranking seventh in terms of population growth and tenth in terms of its net domestic migration rate in 2018.
The Washington region’s job growth weakened in February 2019 and this trend was reflected in each sub-state area. While the Washington region is under-performing most of its peer metros, the gains in these metros are also moderating, suggesting that national factors may also be playing a role in the Washington region’s slowdown.
There can be no question that Amazon’s HQ2 location in Arlington County will have significant implications for the local and regional economies. The direct and indirect impacts have been widely reported: 25,000 or more jobs with an average salary of $150,000, an annual payroll of $3.75 billion or more, $4 billion in new construction outlays, the generation and support of tens of thousands of other jobs throughout the region’s economy cutting across all sectors and the generation of significant magnitudes of net fiscal benefits—revenues exceeding public expenses—to the benefit of Arlington County (at least $26 million annually at build out) and more than $164 million annually to the Commonwealth of Virginia beyond the costs of state provided new public services.
The Washington region added 35,300 jobs in 2018 based on data released yesterday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 16,800 fewer jobs than indicated by the preliminary releases. According to the most recent data, job growth was significantly weaker during the second half of the year and the gain between the fourth quarter 2017 and the fourth quarter 2018 was the smallest quarterly increase since 2014.