D.C. wage growth falls below national average

The District suffered slower growth in wages earned in the second quarter, falling below the national average for the first time in a decade, the D.C. finance office reports.

Salaries earned in D.C. for the quarter ending in June rose only 1.7 percent over the year before, exactly half the national growth rate, according to D.C.’s Office of Revenue Analysis.

The federal government is chiefly responsible for the slide. Wages in the private sector rose at a 3 percent clip, the slowest growth in two years, but federal sector wages actually fell one-tenth of 1 percent.

It is a sign of the times, given the feds’ tightening belt, and a warning that difficult financial days are ahead. The federal government accounted for 211,000 D.C. jobs as of August, or 28.6 of all employment in the city. As those jobs disappear (federal employment was down 3,967 jobs in August), or as the employees’ salaries are frozen, it will have a ripple effect across the economy.

“The slower rate of growth in wages in DC relative to the US economy represents a reversal of the trend that had held for most of this past decade,” according to the ORA report. “Over the past decade, wages earned in DC, particularly including those earned by DC residents, have grown faster than those earned in the US.”

Other notes from the ORA October report on economic and revenue trends:

  • Condominium sales are booming, up 15.5 percent over September 2011, with the average selling price up 2.1 percent. Single-family sales were down 2.4 percent, but the average sales price was up 7.2 percent.
  • Commercial occupancy is dwindling. The vacancy rate for the third quarter rose to 8.3 percent without sublet space and 9.3 percent with sublet space, up from 8.1 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively. The total amount of occupied space fell by 360,000 square feet in the quarter ending September.
  • The total commercial inventory continues to grow — from 123.6 million square feet as of Sept. 30, 2008 to 134 million square feet as of Sept. 30, 2012.
  • Deed tax payments made a comeback in the final quarter of fiscal 2012, rising 44.3 percent over the last quarter of fiscal 2011. What looked like a down year in deed transfers, recordation and economic interest payments ended up virtually flat — up one-tenth of 1 percent.
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