Morning Brief: Area Unemployment Rises

More evidence is emerging that the economic downturn is hitting the Washington area.

Staff writer V. Dion Haynes reports that unemployment in the Washington region reached its highest level in November since June 2003, inching up to 4.4 percent from 4.1 percent the month before.

Overall, though, the region created more jobs than it lost and was tied with one other metropolitan area for the nation's lowest unemployment rate. In the November data, Washington tied with the Oklahoma City region for the lowest unemployment rate. Because that economy is connected to the oil industry, some analysts said joblessness there could increase and the Washington region ultimately could emerge with the lowest unemployment rate.

Still, some analysts told Haynes our region's job losses could be more severe than the downturn of 2001, yet recovery could come much sooner here than in other areas of the country.

Unemployment is expected to climb higher in December and January, when retailers and landscaping and construction firms shed seasonal workers.

In Virginia the economic downturn is also hitting classrooms. In Loudoun County that means class sizes will grow; student fees for sports, Advanced Placement tests and parking will be imposed or increased; and funding for special education and ESL classes will be cut in a budget proposed by Loudoun County Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III on Tuesday night.

The budget proposal anticipates an overall spending increase of 1.6 percent.

And despite the inauguration frenzy hitting much of the Washington area, some local residents are looking to get away and some tourism officials have taken notice.

A ski resort in West Virginia is offering a low-cost "escape inauguration" promotion. And several hotels on Florida's Amelia Island are offering discounts to residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia for that week.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  January 7, 2009; 8:49 AM ET  | Category:  Economy , Economy Watch , Morning Brief
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