What is the Secret to Washington's Success?

With the healthiest economy of any major metropolitan area in the country and a winning baseball team, D.C. is doing quite well for itself these days. David Leonhardt looks at what economic lessons the city has to offer the rest of the country.
August 6, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With unemployment at 5.7 percent in June, compared with 9.3 percent in Chicago, 9.6 percent in New York and 10.3 percent in Los Angeles, and soaring housing prices, D.C.'s economy is the envy of a country still struggling to overcome the Great Recession. And the city's prosperity is visible in the ongoing redevelopment that kicked off towards the end of the 1990s, and has been remaking neighborhoods across the city at a brisk pace ever since. 

Leonhardt identifies two key elements driving D.C.'s winning ways - government spending and education. 

"In the worldwide experiment on fiscal policy that's been run during the past few years, Washington has joined China firmly in the stimulus camp. Much of the rest of the United States, where almost two million state and local government jobs have disappeared, looks more like austerity-hobbled Europe." Yet D.C. has received "more stimulus dollars per capita than any state, according to an analysis by ProPublica."

"Washington's second lesson is arguably even more important. If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated, you can look at Washington."

"In an economy ever more organized around knowledge, Washington's employers - from biotechnology and Internet companies to retail and health care - have an easier time finding workers who fit their needs. Especially in bad times, employers can have more confidence they are hiring someone they will want to keep." 


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Published on Saturday, August 4, 2012 in The New York Times
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