The Washington area’s longtime dependence on federal money has always been something of a blessing and a curse. It allowed the region to be one of the nation’s few economic bright spots after the financial crisis gutted the national economy in 2009, attracting job seekers to the District in droves and spurring a development boom here. But four years later, hiring ground to a halt as congressional gridlock forced a government shutdown and federal budgets were slashed as part of the sequestration process, even though the recovery was gaining momentum elsewhere.
Next month, Inauguration Day weekend will draw crowds of people, perhaps a million or more, to the nation’s capital in celebration or dissent. No matter which side of the political fence they represent, they’re likely to spend money while they’re in D.C., boosting the local economy.
The D.C. metropolitan area added 65,500 jobs in the one-year period ending in November, a 2 percent growth rate that outstripped the rest of the nation as a whole, according to government data released Friday morning. An analysis by the Stephen S. Fuller Institute, a new economic research group at George Mason University, found that the region is on track to average 2.2 percent employment growth in 2016, which would be the strongest growth rate here since 2004.
If there is one thing economist Stephen Fuller can’t seem to do, it’s retire. The well-known regional economist and former head of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis announced he was stepping down in 2014 – effective Jan. 9, 2017 – to give the school time to find a replacement.
The double-whammy of supporters and protesters coming to town for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration could boost the region by $1 billion, on par with the historic 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.