08/17/2012 10:56 am ET

Mayor Vincent Gray: D.C. Unemployment Stands At 8.9 Percent

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WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray delivered some good news on Friday morning: Unemployment in July dropped two tenths of a percentage point, standing at 8.9 percent. That's the lowest unemployment in the city since February 2009.

"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," the mayor said in a statement released by his office. "Having unemployment under 9 percent citywide is a huge milestone, and I'm proud of the work we've done to put D.C. residents back to work."

According to the mayor's office:

The report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the total number of jobs in the District grew by 13,100 in July and that the number of unemployed District residents decreased by 600.

In the last year, the aggregate unemployment rate in Wards 5, 7 and 8 has dropped three full percentage points, from 19.2 percent to 16.2 percent. The trend has been most dramatic in Ward 8, where unemployment has dropped by more than four percentage points since July 2011 (from 26.3 percent to 22.5 percent). Over the same period, unemployment in Ward 7 has dropped from 17.8 percent to 15 percent and the rate in Ward 5 has dropped from 14.6 percent to 12.2 percent.

Mayor Gray noted that the District’s job growth in recent years has been largely fueled by economic diversification – with growth in private-sector jobs outpacing growth in federal jobs. Statistics from the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer show that, in the fourth quarter of 2012, there were 4 percent more private-sector jobs in the District than at the same time last year, while there were 1 percent fewer federal jobs over that same period.

While those numbers are promising, regional economists and local officials are waiting to see what happens with budget sequestration, which could hit the D.C. area's federal contracting sectors hard -- particularly in Virginia.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray