Washington, D.C.: The Capital of Contractors

Last Updated Apr 21, 2010 7:45 PM EDT

Key Stats:

Job growth (2008-2018): 10.25%

Population: 591,833

College educated: 47.2%

High/low average temperatures: 88/27

Median household income: $56,428

Median home price: $453,900

Art museums: 13

Parks: 43

Pro sports teams: 5

Major national monuments: 7

It began with the Clinton Administration’s push to outsource government jobs. Then the trend flourished when the Bush Administration expanded Medicare and Homeland Security. Now with the Obama Administration’s move into the financial and healthcare industries, job growth in Washington, D.C. looks pretty rosy. “D.C. is projected to add between 600,000 and 700,000 net new jobs over the next ten years — after adding an equal number over the past ten years,” says Stephen S. Fuller, Director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University in Washington, D.C. They will be mostly private-sector jobs, with the largest chunk in professional/business services, which includes all of those contractor firms that took over outsourced jobs [[I’M NOT SURE WHAT THAT SENTENCE IS SAYING]]. “The federal government has only 15,000 more jobs today than it did in 1970, totaling about 360,000. But it has over 600,000 federal contractor jobs, a segment that has grown dramatically in the past 25 years and kept on growing right through the recession,” he says. Globalization, too, has drawn more companies to the “the capital of capitals,” as Fuller calls D.C., and they’ve added to the demand for contractors. The World Bank, which pumps $2 billion annually into the Washington, D.C. economy, employs 10,000 people, and more than half are contractors or consultants.

[PHOTO CAPTION: The federal government has only 15,000 more jobs today than it did in 1970. But thanks to outsourcing, Uncle Sam relies on an army of about 600,000 contractors.]

Which isn’t to say federal jobs aren’t important. They grew by about 13,000 last year. But the real jump will come when Baby Boomers begin retiring. The government’s Office of Personnel Management estimates that retirement from the executive branch alone will total more than 300,000 jobs in the next five years. “In both areas of growth — private and public — most of the new jobs will be filled by knowledge workers,” Fuller says. “So while D.C. did lose some jobs in manufacturing, construction, and retail, it’s adding more high-skill jobs.”