The District of Columbia’s role in the Washington metropolitan area’s economic landscape is changing. Historically, the District has been the center of employment in the region. Until recently, its unique strength was the presence of a large federal workforce. But now, federal activity is shrinking both in the District and the region. This shifting of economic activity from public to private sectors has made the District more vulnerable to competitive forces of surrounding jurisdictions.
What does this shift mean for the District? What does the District need to do to ensure its continued status as the primary economic engine of the region?
The District is a small, open economy, at the center of a region made up of increasingly competitive jurisdictions. The city draws from the overall strength of the region, but finds itself constantly competing for jobs, workers, and residents. City policies, investments, and actions reverberate across the metro region, pushing or pulling businesses, workers, and residents in and out of our city in a constant ebb and flow. Differences within the region — some rooted in history, some related to policy, and some related to economic circumstances — shape the flow of people and business within the region. Historically, these differences have often favored the District, but there is little guarantee these trends will continue in the future.
Later this summer, the D.C. Policy Center will be launching a major research initiative on regional business patterns and the competitive dynamics of the Washington metro area. The initiative will include a series of in-depth analyses on:
- The regional entrepreneurship landscape: Where businesses are born, die, survive, and thrive across the Washington metropolitan region.
- Shifting trends in the city: What new business activity is replacing the loss in federal employment and what this means for different areas of the city.
- Business mobility: When and why do firms move across the region and which jurisdictions are successful in attracting businesses from (a) other parts of the metropolitan area or from (b) outside of the metropolitan area.
- Job and workforce flows: How labor moves in or migrates out of the city, and how labor and workforce patterns change among workers of different age groups, earning levels, and industries.
Based on all of these factors, how will the District continue to thrive? What risks could change the District’s status in the region? How could current policies or policies under consideration be improved to bolster the competitive position of the District?
As the culmination of this work, we’ll be releasing a framework of considerations that District officials can use to help gauge if current policies (or policies under consideration) could be improved to bolster the District’s competitive position.
For more information on the D.C. Policy Center’s Competitiveness and Business Dynamics initiative, please contact Director of External Relations Aimee Custis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 223-2233.