Metro D.C. Monitor: Tracking Economic Recession and Recovery in the Greater Washington Region

Benjamin Orr
Benjamin Orr Research Analyst, Greater Washington Research Program

December 15, 2009

Most economists report that the recession is technically over. Gross domestic product returned
to positive growth in the third quarter, housing prices are rising, and job losses may be
stabilizing. Yet the recovery is fragile and could be reversed, and unemployment continues to be
a major problem.

In many ways the greater Washington region has been spared the worst of the crisis. Based on an index of economic performance in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas over the course of the recession and recovery, tracked in Brookings’ MetroMonitor, the Washington metropolitan area has ranked as one of the twenty strongest-performing metros in each of the last three quarters. The regional labor market remained relatively strong and gross metropolitan product (GMP) has recorded positive growth throughout much of the last two years. In fact, the D.C. region is one of only 13 metros which experienced growth in both GMP and jobs in the third quarter of 2009.

However, the regional housing market was weaker than most, with significantly higher rates of bank owned properties and falling housing prices. Moreover, economic recovery within the region was uneven as several jurisdictions continued to face multiple challenges.

This Metro D.C. Monitor, the second edition in a quarterly series, tracks five key indicators of economic health in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area: employment, unemployment, gross metropolitan product, housing prices, and real-estate owned properties (REO). It is a supplement to the MetroMonitor produced by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, which examines the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. For each economic indicator, Metro D.C. Monitor shows how the greater Washington area ranks among those 100 metro areas nationwide, provides interpretive analysis, and—where detailed data are available—examines variation in performance within the region.

Previous Metro D.C. Monitor Reports
September 2009 » (PDF)