Mayor Bowser’s vision is for DC to become the global model for inclusive prosperity and resilience, showcasing how diversity and innovation can drive equitable economic growth.
This vision was shaped by conversations that took place in fall 2016 with over 450 stakeholders, including business executives, local entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, neighborhood residents and many others. Across all of these conversations, near consensus emerged on several topics:
- DC must grow inclusively and not become a city accessible only to those with wealth and privilege.
- DC’s diversity is a strength that positions us to innovate, but must also be actively preserved and cultivated.
- DC is in a strong economic position, but we must continue to be proactive and forward-looking to continue our momentum and remain economically vibrant.
Two goals guide the economic strategy. We will use the related metrics and align agency performance plans to track progress toward our vision.
- Grow a vibrant and resilient economy driven by private sector expansion. Specifically, grow the DC private sector economy to $100 billion (by 20%), by the end of 2021. Private sector GDP as of 2Q16 was $83.4 billion.
- Foster economic prosperity for all Washingtonians by increasing job opportunities and decreasing employment disparities by the end of 2021. Reduce unemployment across wards, races, and educational attainment levels, bringing unemployment levels below 10% in all segments by the end of 2021. This goal translates to the following targets:
- Reduce unemployment levels of African-American residents.
- Reduce unemployment levels of high school graduates without a Bachelor’s degree.
- Reduce unemployment levels of Wards 7 and 8.
Private Sector Expansion Goal
Growing the private sector economy by 20% to $100 billion, means that private sector GDP will have to grow at 3.4% annually. 1 For context, while the annual growth rate for DC’s private sector GDP from 2Q12-2Q16 was 4.2%, and the annual growth rate for total GDP (public and private sectors) was 3.5%, more recent figures suggest that DC economic growth has been slowing.2 Year-on-year private sector growth in July 2016 was only 3.5%,3 while recent employment data shows the number of jobs in DC growing by only 1.8%.4 A larger private sector economy means more jobs and revenue for the city, and will also enhance economic resilience by diversifying the DC economy away from the federal government.
The second goal of fostering economic prosperity for all Washingtonians by increasing job opportunities and decreasing economic disparities will be measured using unemployment rates across the dimensions of ward, race, and education levels. Achieving this target would require creating jobs for District residents from all walks of life, including those without four-year educational degrees and returning citizens, and supporting entrepreneurs and longstanding businesses that have been engines of the District’s economic growth and anchors of the DC economy. This goal translates to the following targets:
- Reduce unemployment levels of African-American residents. DC’s unemployment rate is considerably higher for African-American residents at 13.2%; this is higher than DC’s overall unemployment rate and over 4 times that of Caucasian residents (3.1%).
- Reduce unemployment levels of high school graduates without a Bachelor’s degree. The gap between populations is echoed in educational attainment, with the unemployment rate for high school graduates at a staggering 15.6% compared to the 3.3% for those with a Bachelor’s degree (or higher).
- Reduce unemployment levels of Wards 7 and 8. The 12-month average unemployment rates (November 2015-16) for Ward 7 and 8 were 10.9% and 13.4%, respectively. Unemployment levels in other wards were consistently below 10%.
In addition to the two goals outlined above, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) is developing an inclusive prosperity dashboard, and performance metrics will be created to track the strategy initiatives.
The concepts of growth, inclusiveness, innovation, and economic resilience are defined as follows:
- Growth means continuing to support and encourage a thriving economy across all of DC’s major economic sectors.
- Inclusiveness means people from all backgrounds, neighborhoods, and incomes – longtime and new – have an opportunity to contribute to, benefit from and live in a prosperous District.
- Innovation involves harnessing the potential of new technologies and trends to grow and disrupt traditional industries, as well as exploring new and emerging business models and sectors.
- Economic Resilience involves developing an economy that is diversified in focus across established and new industrial sectors, as well as across the District’s communities.
- This growth rate uses 2Q16 private sector GDP of $83.4 billion as a baseline.
- Data analyzed from Bureau of Economic Analysis. Accessed 21 December 2016. < https://www.bea.gov/>
- Data analyzed from Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cited in DC Office of the Chief Financial Officer, DC Government Economic Indicators, November 2016 <http://cfo.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ocfo/publication/attachments/EINovember2016.pdf>