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Gray cheers slight drop in D.C. unemployment rate

- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2012

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Friday that a slight drop in the city's unemployment rate, from 9.1 percent in June to 8.9 percent in July, shows his workforce efforts "continue to pay off."

The District gained 13,100 jobs in July and the number of employed D.C. residents decreased by 600, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics cited by Mr. Gray.

Neighboring states saw their unemployment rates go up from June to July — from 6.9 to 7 percent in Maryland and from 5.7 to 5.9 percent in Virginia — although they are still faring better than the District and the national rate, which is at 8.3 percent.

Mr. Gray has pointed to workforce development as one of the cornerstones of his administration and frequently touts his "One City One Hire" program, which encourages local firms to hire unemployed city residents in exchange for financial incentives.

Despite progress, unemployment remains startlingly high in the city's eastern wards. Since July 2011, the unemployment rate has decreased from 26.3 percent to 22.5 percent in Ward 8; from 17.8 percent to 15 percent in Ward 7; and from 14.6 percent to 12.2 percent in Ward 5, according to the mayor's office.

"I'm thrilled that our efforts to reduce unemployment in the District continue to pay off — and especially in areas that have been hit hardest by the recent recession," Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray said positive trends have been "fueled by economic diversification," with growth in the private sector outpacing hiring by the federal government.

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