On August 21, 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the preliminary revision for national jobs data. According this preliminary adjustment, the U.S. added 501,000 (20.1%) fewer jobs between March 2018 and March 2019 than were initially reported. Despite this revision, revisions in March 2020 to local jobs data will not necessarily be as large, because the jobs being revised away from the national estimate were never allocated to any state-level data.
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.