- Marionville mayor ‘kind of agreed’ with Kansas City shooter’s views
- Rev. Al Sharpton’s Easter message: Politically ‘crucified’ Obama has risen again
- Supreme Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
- UNICEF launches ‘Mr. Poo’ mascot in India to curb public defecation
- Teen taking selfie by train: ‘Wow, that guy just kicked me in the head’
- Goodbye, Afghanistan — hello, Africa: Air Force to shift as U.S. exits Middle East
- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
- ABC News accuses Center for Public Integrity of stealing Pulitzer-winning work
In throes of recession, D.C. stands apart
Federal spending insulates region
Throughout the recession, one major city stood out as an oasis for jobs and growth: Washington, D.C.
Supported by a gusher of federal borrowing and spending, the District of Columbia was the nation’s only metropolitan area that never stopped growing. It stood as a beacon for the nation’s millions of job hunters, from recent college graduates seeking careers in civil service to well-heeled lawyers cashing in on a bonanza of work stemming from health care and financial reform.
Being the center of government, Washington is used to being insulated from national economic trends. But the disconnect became particularly pronounced during the Great Recession — thanks to the federal government’s own expansionary response.
A $700 billion bank bailout and $814 billion economic stimulus bill helped push the federal deficit to unprecedented levels of more than $1.3 trillion in the past two years, and a disproportionate share of that tidal wave of money washed up right back in Washington.
But the spectacle of Washington’s free spending while virtually every other region has had to cut back — increasing prosperity in the capital in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression — has engendered public resentment and a pronounced anti-Washington sentiment that is now playing out in the midterm election cycle.
While the nation’s work force took a body blow, losing 8.3 million jobs — 5.5 percent of the jobs available before the recession — Washington suffered no more than a surface wound. It reported a loss of about 35,000 jobs, or 1.1 percent of the jobs available — mostly in real estate and construction businesses hurt by the housing collapse.
“We are one of the lucky ones,” said Alice Rivlin, a former Federal Reserve governor and director of Greater Washington research at the Brookings Institution. The only other cities that fared as well during the recession, she said, generally were centers of military activity or smaller state capitals, such as Austin, Texas — which also benefited from government spending.
“D.C. seems to have managed to grow right through the recession, although its growth rate did slow and unemployment doubled,” said George Mason University’s Stephen Fuller, a longtime researcher of the local economy. “D.C. and the entire metro area were substantially cushioned from the full effects of the recession.”
Ms. Rivlin said that “the nature of our economy protects us,” noting that with the exception of mortgage finance, Washington lacks the concentration of manufacturing and financial companies in other cities hit hard by the recession.
“The federal government is the engine that drives this economy, directly or indirectly, accounting for at least a third of economic activity,” she said. “In response to the economic crisis, not to mention two wars, federal activity is actually expanding.”
The resentment was playing out on the campaign trail last week.
In a debate Thursday evening, Sharron Angle, the Nevada Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, used an image of high living in Washington. Her Democratic opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is facing a tough fight in his bid for a fifth term.
Saying she was “not a career politician,” Mrs. Angle noted in her opening statement: “I live in a middle-class neighborhood in Reno, Nevada. Senator Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.”
Mr. Reid countered that he made his money as a private lawyer before accepting a “fixed income” when elected to office.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- U.S. Treasury warns China on currency
- IMF gives U.S. Congress year-end deadline for passing reforms
- IMF eyes 'Plan B' for reforming itself without U.S.
- Russia, China leading efforts to bypass U.S. as IMF reforms stall on Capitol Hill
- Jobs: U.S. private sector finally makes up recession's losses
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By returning to Christian roots, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- UNICEF launches 'Mr. Poo' mascot in India to curb public defecation
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.