The District’s economy continues to boom but not everyone has benefited from the economic feast, so Mayor Muriel Bowser wants to make sure that all residents are at the table.
The mayor articulated her belief of economic inclusion during a speech at the “Inclusive Future of Work” event sponsored by Accenture and the Federal City Council that occurred at the Eaton Hotel in Northwest on Oct. 7.
“Our city is doing well,” Bowser said. “There was a time when 1,000 new people moved to our town every month. We are now at 702,000 people and there is a lot of pressure when it comes to growth.
“I would rather be mayor of a city that is dealing with the pressures of growth than be one that is in decline,” she said.
Last month, the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer released a revised revenue estimate for fiscal 2019, reporting that $80 million more will be collected in the city than originally anticipated. Economic development projects are taking place throughout the District, including Skyland Town Center in Ward 7, the St. Elizabeths East campus in Ward 8 and the Walter Reed Hospital site in Ward 4.
The District’s unemployment rate stands at 5.5 percent, with the highest rates of 9.2 and 12.3 percent in Wards 7 and 8, respectively, according to statistics from the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES).
However, while the unemployment rate would satisfy many big-city mayors, Bowser will not settle for it.
“We are going to have to figure out how to get more people involved,” she said.
She acknowledged that the District has been recognized as the No. 1 city for women and technology talent in the U.S. and wants people to understand the change in the city’s workforce dynamics.
Bowser said the District has evolved from being a government town.
“This is not your father’s or great-grandfather’s economy,” she said. “Our private sector outpaces the public sector.”
Bowser noted the city’s burgeoning tech industry has a place for anyone whether they possess a doctorate or a high school diploma. Her administration wants to help entrepreneurs prosper, she said.
Unique Morris-Hughes, DOES director, said her department has many programs to help residents who lack the skills and training to find meaningful employment.
“We can help people with their soft skills,” Morris-Hughes said. “We work to build their emotional intelligence and psychological capital and provide training on conflict resolution. Our department has programs that teach people how to work together as a team and how to persist through adversity. We want all District residents to surpass the challenges they face.”