- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2012

Statistics released Friday show the District’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.8 percent in March to 9.5 percent in April, a positive sign that Mayor Vincent C. Gray touted as proof his employment programs have been effective although there is “more work to do.”

Mr. Gray signaled earlier this week that figures from the D.C. Department of Employment Services would be a positive step for the city, although he was tight-lipped about the details until this morning’s official release. He noted the drop was most dramatic in the city’s eastern wards, which have suffered from exceedingly high unemployment rates that can reach above 20 percent.

In neighboring Maryland, the unemployment rate increased from 6.6 percent in March to 6.7 percent in April. Virginia’s rate remained unchanged at 5.6 percent.

In the District, the latest figures mark a 1.7 percentage drop in citywide unemployment since a high in September of 11.2 percent.

Unemployment remained high in areas bordering the Anacostia River, although it fell from 13.2 percent to 12.8 percent in Ward 5; from 16.1 percent to 15.7 percent in Ward 7; and from 24 percent to 23.5 percent in Ward 8.

“I have made putting District residents back to work a top priority of my administration, and these numbers are a clear indication that our efforts are getting results,” Mr. Gray said.

The mayor has been promoting his One City, One Hire, initiative, which asks firms to hire city residents in exchange for financial incentives from the District.

On Wednesday, Mr. Gray said 3,000 hires can be attributed to the program.

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