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Explaining the Economic Competitiveness of the District of Columbia, Working Paper 051 Open Access

In this report we assess the determinants of city job growth over time. Our focus is on the determinants of job growth in the District of Columbia, and, as a result of our analysis, we project the likely change in job growth in the District over time under various scenarios. The District of Columbia anchors one of the nation’s most dynamic regional economies. From 1990 to 2008 the Washington metropolitan area grew by 27% to over 5.3 million people. In contrast to its surrounding region, the District’s population declined by about 3% from 1990 to 2008, employment grew only slightly from 1990 to 2008, and most of the people holding those jobs reside elsewhere in the region. This same sort of central city/regional difference largely resembles many metropolitan areas across the nation. Central city job loss or slow growth relative to suburban areas is not new as nationally suburbs generally increase jobs at a faster rate than their central cities. Our purpose in this report is to understand the factors that affect the District’s economic competitiveness. Specifically we focus on understanding what affects the location of jobs in the city. Using a statistical model that includes the District and twenty‐two other central cities from 1989 to 2008, we examine the impact of city‐specific factors on city employment while also controlling for the effects of regional economic performance.

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