Two reports released today by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) reveal significant growth in regional jobs and home sales, as well as a significant increase in the amount of new retail building space under construction.
Economic Trends in Metropolitan Washington, 1999-2003 reports the number of jobs in the area increased from 2.44 million in 1999 to 2.62 million in 2003. COG’s Draft Round 6.4 Cooperative Forecast shows that the number of jobs will grow by nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2030. During the same five-year span, the region grew by more than 410,500 people, with outer suburbs experiencing the greatest percentage population increase. The National Capital Region’s population is expected to grow by more than 35.8 percent by 2030.
Personal incomes also increased, as did retail sales in the region. Total personal income increased by an average annual rate of 7.3 percent between 1998 and 2002, leading to a 2002 total of $205.9 billion. In 2001, the total was $199.5 billion. On a per capita basis, income varied greatly by jurisdiction in 2003. Arlington County topped the region in per capita income at $55,148, while Stafford County had the lowest per capita income at $29,278. Retail sales in 2003, meanwhile, totaled $63.8 billion, slightly greater than the total in 2002 of $62.9 billion.
Mortgage rates continued to fall between 1999 and 2003 to a low of 5.9 percent in 2003, and average rates fell from 6.7 percent in 2002 to 6.0 percent in 2003. The result was a dramatic jump in the number of homes sold, from 72,498 units in 1999 to 116,108 units in 2003.
Meanwhile, construction of new retail space in the region grew by 1.6 million square feet in 2003, the greatest amount of space added for this sector in any given year since 1980. Commercial developers broke ground on a total of 524 new projects in 2003, which COG’s Commercial Construction Indicators: 2003 Annual Report found to add more than 31 million square feet valued at $3.6 billion – a slight decrease from the 33.6 million square feet valued at $3.7 billion added in 2002. As in previous years, private firms were responsible for the majority of this construction last year. In 2003, private firms started 74 percent of the new square footage in the region while federal, state, and local governments were responsible for the remaining 26 percent.
Northern Virginia led the region in the construction of new commercial space with 244 projects, while the District of Columbia added 50 and Maryland added 230.
COG publishes the five-year analysis of the region’s economy each year to provide information on the region’s population, employment, construction, retail sales, inflation, mortgage rates, and number of passengers served by the area’s major airports. Commercial Construction examines the number location, structure, type, size and estimated construction costs of new commercial development projects in the region during 2002 and 2003.