The Washington D.C. local area has weathered the recession better then some areas although its over inflated housing market has crashed to earth. There has also been an uptick in the local unemployment rates due to the lack of demand for construction and the spillover effect into the service economy. Maryland's is now at 6.9 percent, Virginia at 6.8 and the District of Columbia just under ten percent at 9.8. If the trends in the economy continue these should go up some more.
Luckily for the local area the Federal Government continues to prop up the general economy. The Washington Post released their annual list of the Top 200 companies in the area and fully a third of the economy is based on the national government.
As the government grows in both spending and workforce as Obama has proposed in the massive 2010 budget this will continue to have a positive effect on the D.C. metro area. The workers are concentrated in Arlington and Alexandria, VA; the suburbs of Maryland and D.C. proper. They will need to live within commuting distance of the city but that ring extends over a hundred miles based on my past experience. This actually means that the benefits of increased spending will reach further areas of the states. The Department of Defense also is spread across Virginia and Maryland with bases at Patuxent River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Fort Lee near Richmond and Fort Meade in Maryland. All three facilities will grow with the latest round of BRAC.
In the past the D.C. area has done better during economic downturns as it relies more on intellectual and government related work rather then something mundane like auto manufacturing. Even with the plan to convert many contract jobs to government will help as those people who are contractors will most likely move into a government job at some point. As long as the Federal Government requires a sizable workforce the D.C. area will have a decent economy compared to other parts of the nation.