The District of Columbia and its surrounding metro areas got a bit of mixed news today. The good news came in the area of the city’s unemployment rate. The bad news came in the form of a decrease in the region’s consumer confidence index.
But first, the good news.
According to an article in the Washington Business Journal, the unemployment rate in the Washington area remains the lowest in the nation. The region’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in October. That’s a .1 percent decrease from the recorded 5.9 percent unemployment rate in September.
Washington remains the only major city in the country with an unemployment rate below 6 percent, beating out Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Austin and Boston. There were 177,700 area residents collecting an unemployment check in October.
Despite the solid news about the region’s unemployment rate and it being the best in the nation, the Greater Washington Board of Trade’s latest index of consumer confidence slipped this month. This is the first time in two years that the index has slid backwards.
The Consumer Confidence Survey fell from 62 in June to 58 in December. However, the Index of Current Conditions improved by 2 index points, going from 43 in June to 45 in December. Unfortunately, the Index of Future Expectations fell 9 index points, from 80 to 71.
This shows that consumers feel that current conditions are better than where they were, but that the current job market and ongoing financial hardships are making their future outlook grim.
This was reflected in what area consumers said about their holiday shopping plans. Only 9 percent of the region’s consumers plan on spending more this year on the holidays, 36 percent plan on spending less and 54 percent plan on spending the same as they did last.
The large federal government presence in the DC region did, however, have an impact on the findings. Federal employees were overall more optimistic about current conditions. Also, 48 percent of respondents had a positive view of the region’s economy compared with just 18 percent that had a positive view of the national economy.
So, the unemployment rate in DC remains strong, and the best in the nation, in fact. Unfortunately, consumers are down about the future and letting it impact their spending decisions today. Regardless of the findings, the nation’s capital and its economy remain in strong economic standing and are ripe for continued corporate growth today and into the future.