District’s labor market and workforce are intertwined with Maryland and Virginia

In 2014, nearly 774,000 workers reported working in the District of Columbia and they collectively earned $63.5 billion in wages and salaries. Of these workers, only 251,000 or 32 percent were District residents. The remainder were commuters from Virginia or Maryland, accounting for 68 percent of people employed in our city. The District’s share in total wages earned was even lower: District residents accounted for $18 billion of salaries and wages earned in the District. This is about 28 percent of all wages and salaries earned in the city.

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In addition 89,000 District residents reverse-commuted to Virginia and Maryland, mostly working for private entities (76 percent including non-profits) and the federal government. This group collectively earned $6 billion in wages, compared to the $45 billion Maryland and Virginia commuters earned in the District.

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The data reveal other trends. District residents who work in the District hold a disproportionate share of the lower-paying jobs: 44 percent of jobs that pay a wage of $30K or less are held by DC residents, compared to 32 percent of all jobs in the District. Virginia residents, on the other hand, tend to hold a larger proportion of higher paying jobs: 28 percent of jobs in the District and nearly 40 percent of all jobs that pay $100K or more.

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The data also show that District residents dominate employment in the non-profit sector, one of the lowest paying sectors in the District.  Commuters from Virginia and Maryland, on the other hand, typically come to the District to work in the private sector and the federal government.

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District’s labor market and workforce are tied deeply with those of Maryland and Virginia. If salaries are any indicators, the most educated and productive residents of our neighboring jurisdictions work in the District. In 2014, District residents who worked in the District reported wage earnings of $63,700 compared to $69,400 for commuters from Maryland, and nearly $95,000 for commuters from Virginia. But even within the same sector, District resident’s wages could be low: In the non-profit sector, District residents earned, on average, $68,500 in wages—13 percent less than Maryland workers and 20 percent less than VA workers.

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Here are the data, in greater detail, for you to explore:

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What exactly is this data?

The data is from the single-years PUMS release from American Community Survey for 2014. The analysis was done in SAS, and SAS files are available from the author.

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