Federal Government Shutdown Significantly Impacts Northern Virginia
Job layoffs and furloughs in the Northern Virginia region are a concern for any shutdown.
Jill Kaneff, the Senior Regional Demographer at the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, has put together some data on the impact of a potential Federal government shutdown.
Government shutdowns significantly impact Northern Virginia. If a shutdown were to happen on October 1st of this year it would be deeply impactful on the region. They impact many different things, including impacting the region’s economy, workers, the level of federal government services and programs, and closing of federally owned wildlife refuges and parks (e.g., Great Falls, Prince William Forest) that provide a natural outdoor space for the community and tourists.
The Northern Virginia region’s proximity to Washington D.C. has created a regional economy that is greatly dependent on the federal government. The federal government employs a large share of the region’s residents and a large number of employees in the federal government have jobs located in Northern Virginia. In addition, a large share of the business community includes federal government contracting companies.
Federal government (non-military) jobs located in Northern Virginia averaged 73,318 in 4Q 2022, according to the BLS, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage. In addition to these jobs are the large number of federal contractor jobs located in Northern Virginia and military jobs at Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, and Quantico. The federal contractor jobs cover arenas such as defense and cybersecurity, which are critical jobs for the safety and protection of America’s citizens. All active-duty military are considered essential personnel, hence they would not be furloughed.
Out of all Northern Virginia residents, 148,457 (13.9%) primary jobs were located in Washington D.C, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2020 LEHD. A sizable percentage of these workers likely are federal workers, as Washington D.C. has 193,636 federal employees (non-military) working in the city, of which comprises 25.5% of all city jobs.
The two most impactful government shutdowns over the past ten years for the country and region were the October 1-October 13, 2013 and December 22, 2018-January 25, 2019 government shutdowns. Job layoffs and furloughs in the Northern Virginia region are a concern for any shutdown.
October 2013 Shutdown
Initial unemployment claims increased in Northern Virginia from 3,672 in September to 12,356 in October, an increase of 8,684 (236%), meaning 8,684 workers were laid off. See NVRC’s Monthly Economic Track Report, page 7.
For a national impact analysis that provides an extensive array of impacts from shutdowns, see the following federal government report, Impacts and Costs of the October 2013 Federal Government Shutdown.
Dec 2018-Jan 2019 Shutdown
Initial unemployment claims increased in Northern Virginia from 1,446 in December to 4,147 in January, an increase of 2,701 (186%), meaning 2,701 workers were laid off. See NVRC’s Monthly Economic Track Report, page 7.
For an analysis of national impacts from the 2018/2019 shutdown, see the Congressional Budget Office report.
About the Northern Virginia Regional Commission
NVRC is a consortium of thirteen local governments representing more than 2.5 million residents. The region has a GDP of $250 Billion which is 41.4% of the GDP of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Northern Virginia’s GDP is larger than 23 states and the District of Columbia and if a country would be the 51st largest economy in the world.
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