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Is Washington's Local Economy in Trouble? - Source Washingtonian

Posted on Jan 10,2018
Filed Under Local Politics , Politics,

Photograph by Mike Morgan. Photo-illustration by C.J. Burton.

Source Washingtonian


The collapse begins on Capitol Hill. In 2018, Congress’s failure to pass a budget leads to a 10-percent cut in federal discretionary spending in the Washington area. Contracting firms begin layoffs. The newly unemployed stop taking their clothes to the dry cleaner’s, dine out less often, and stop buying homes. With fewer customers, clothing boutiques and cocktail bars trim staff or shut down. As the dysfunction in Congress drags on, the government eliminates some 30,000 federal employees and contractors. The unemployment rate doubles. Spin studios in Bethesda go under, artisanal grocery stores in Dupont Circle close. New construction grinds to a halt; developers walk away from half-finished projects. Flowers at building entrances shrivel and die.

Lower tax receipts from declining property values force local governments to slash social services. School funding plummets just as more parents move their children from private academies to the public system. Young workers flee to faster-growing cities like Boston and Seattle. The nation’s capital is plunged into a deep recession with no end in sight.

It’s a nightmare scenario, sure. But it’s one that Professor Stephen Fuller, the area’s most influential voice on such matters, considers dangerously realistic. Which is why, on a Wednesday morning in October, he stands at a podium before a crowd of local government officials, bankers, and developers in an auditorium on George Mason University’s Arlington campus. For nearly half an hour, he clicks through a presentation of trend lines moving in the wrong direction, bar graphs dipping negative, and Washington plummeting to the bottom of big-city rankings—much of it triggered by the federal spending cuts, including those known as sequestration.

Source Washingtonian

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