If By "The District of Columbia" You Mean "College Educated White People"

The problem with economic commentary posting that DC is insulated from the recession and that said insulation gives policy-makers an unrealistically rosy view of the economy is that it basically ignores that an entire segment of the city isn’t insulated from the recession. So here’s Catherine Rampell:

In every state, a majority of residents think the economy is getting worse. In the nation’s capital, however, a full 60 percent of people think the economy is getting better.

This may be good evidence for those arguing that Washington exists in its own disconnected bubble. At the very least, Gallup’s results show that the District of Columbia thinks very differently about the state of the economy than the rest of the country does.

Joan McCarter cosigns:

The rest of the country is flipping out about the economy because they are actually living that reality. Perhaps while 535 of those Washington residents are out visiting the people across the nation they’re supposed to be representing, a little bit of reality will be explained to them.

I’m sure this doesn’t apply everywhere in the city. In fact I guarantee you that looking beyond Wards 2 and 3 you’d get a very different appraisal. Take for example, this Brookings graph of unemployment by Ward, which shows wards with the highest concentration of black residents as having sky-high unemployment through 2010:

DC By ward.png

Wards 7 and 8 aren’t just “living” a reality of high unemployment reflected in the rest of the country, they’re “living a reality” that’s considerably worse. And across the river, they're just as "invisible" to federal lawmakers as the unemployed in the rest of the country.

So no, the economy in DC isn't "doing fine," unless we're mostly talking about college educated whites, and unless you mention the city's stark racial and class divides you're not addressing the issue honestly. A related point though, is that contrary to conservative dogma that federal government can absolutely "create jobs," and prevent necessary ones from being lost, particularly at the local level. We're just not doing that because Republicans don't care if government workers lose their jobs, as far as they're concerned that's a feature of the recession, not a bug. 

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