D.C. Jobs Report: Increased Jobs and Demand for Talent

According to the jobs report released on April 29 by the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the greater Washington, D.C. unemployment rate in March was 4.8 percent, down 0.2 percent from February. Preliminary estimates show the metropolitan area of the nation’s capital added 11,100 jobs over the past month for a total of 2,546,100. The private sector added 10,100 jobs, while the public sector added 1,000. Professional and business services jobs increased by 6,200 and financial activities added 200 jobs. What does all this mean for employers looking to hire in the District?

Josh Howarth, regional vice president at Robert Half in the D.C. metro area, notes the increased number of jobs in the professional and business services sector in D.C. is tied to small- and medium-sized businesses, which are experiencing strong growth. As a result, these organizations are turning to outside services like systems implementations and/or upgrade vendors, consultants and specialized staffing agencies to bolster their expansion.

Because many companies are expanding at the same time, some area employers are finding it difficult to locate skilled candidates, especially those with highly sought skills and experience. According to a survey from Robert Half, 53 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) nationwide said it was "somewhat challenging" to find skilled candidates for professional-level positions, while 15 percent noted it was "very challenging."

Regarding the effects this challenge has on the D.C. area, Howarth says, "We are seeing strong growth in small- and medium-sized organizations — many of them start-ups — and a significant labor shortage in specialized areas such as accounting, IT, marketing and the legal field. This combination is creating extremely high demand for skilled candidates in these sectors."

In order to attract top talent, employers need to make their organizations attractive by offering competitive salaries and enticing benefits, including traditional offerings like retirement savings plans and paid time off, as well as non-traditional perks like flex hours and free parking.

What are your thoughts on the latest D.C. jobs report? Share them in the comments.

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