- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Workforce data released Tuesday shows unemployment rates decreased across the region from September to October.

The District’s unemployment rate of 8.5 percent is still above the national average rate of 7.9 percent, yet the rate fell by 0.2 percent over a month and declined in each of the city’s eight wards. The city saw a net gain of 4,100 jobs and joined 37 states in seeing a decrease in their rate over the last month, according to city officials and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has attributed the city’s gains to his One City, One Hire program and his efforts to diversify the city’s economy through tech businesses and other private sector ventures.

“The robust growth of the District’s private sector coupled with slight decline in the number of public-sector jobs since the beginning of 2011 underscores how crucial it is for us to diversify our city’s economy beyond dependence on the federal government,” he said Tuesday.

Despite the city’s progress, more than one in five Ward 8 residents who are seeking a job cannot find one, according to data from the D.C. Department of Employment Services.

The unemployment rate in the ward did drop, however, from 21.8 percent to 21 percent in the last month. Among other parts of the city struggling with unemployment, the rate decreased from 14.5 percent to 13.9 percent in

Ward 7 and from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent in Ward 5.

Ward 3 continues to enjoy the lowest unemployment rate in the city, at 2.1 percent.

Maryland’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent to 6.7 percent. Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said that with 16,700 new jobs created in the month, it was the state’s best month for private sector job growth in more than 15 years.

“Maryland’s dynamic private sector continues to prove that we are on the cutting edge of innovation and that our greatest assets are the talents, skills, creativity, ingenuity, and education of our people,” Mr. O’Malley said in a prepared statement.

Virginia’s jobless rate dropped from 5.9 percent to 5.7 percent. According to the Associated Press, the state’s unemployment rate has mostly been decreasing since January 2010, when joblessness peaked at 7.3 percent.