Morning Brief: Washington Feels Economic Pinch

Monday morning brings us a look at all business news that is local. The economic view first: the Washington area, long considered one of the most economically resilient in the country, is beginning to feel the pinch of the sharp national downturn.

The unemployment rate for the Washington area was 4 percent in September, the most recent month for which metro-area data are available, a jump from 3 percent for the same time last year and the third consecutive month in which it was 4 percent or higher.

The last time unemployment was over 4 percent was in 2003, in the aftermath of the 2001 recession.

In news from local hotel behemoth Marriott International, Norman Jenkins is walking away from what appears to be a secure corporate job and stepping out on his own at a time of high economic turbulence after 16 years at the Bethesda company.

Norman Jenkins

"I'm a contrarian, and I think it's a good time," says Jenkins, who announced last week that on Jan. 1 he will leave his job as senior vice president of North American lodging development and champion of Marriott's hotel ownership initiative.

Jenkins is launching Capstone Development, which will work with partners to develop hotel properties primarily in the mid-Atlantic and in urban markets.

With financial markets going wild and the economy experiencing a sharp downturn, there are plenty of worries to be had among local corporate executives these days.

To deal with the pressures of corporate life, some local chieftains are turning to executive wellness programs in the area, which offer health evaluations and treatment plans.

And with all the news of pirates these days, one local firm is trying to capitalize on the uncertainty. Corporate Risk International, a firm that specializes in negotiating with kidnappers, has begun offering its negotiating services to ships concerned about a vessel being seized.

The company is also partnering with Veritas, a London-based maritime security firm, which offers armed security on vessels as well as tactical training for captains and crew members that he said could help ships evade pirates.

And in lobbying news, a trade group for some of the biggest defense companies is going on the offensive, with a lobbying push and a $1.5 million ad campaign to promote the number of jobs it creates. Defense analysts call it a preemptive measure to protect its lucrative weapons programs under a new Obama administration.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  November 30, 2008; 10:15 PM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch
Previous: Morning Brief: Small Businesses Wary of Bailout | Next: Value Added: A Trip To The Spa


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