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Here’s something you probably already knew: the District’s construction boom isn’t translating to jobs for District residents.
A new report, commissioned by the laborers’ union, found that D.C. has the lowest percentage of residents working in the construction industry compared to Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore. Meanwhile, residents of D.C.’s suburbs are more likely to have construction jobs than suburbanites of any of the aforementioned Northeastern cities.
The District only has about 8,700 residents, or 2.9 percent of its population, working construction, compared to 7.3 percent of the area’s suburbs, according to the nonprofit research group, Good Jobs First, that produced the report. The rate of construction-related jobs in the other cities ranges from 4 percent to 5.8 percent.
“The failure of area contractors to employ District residents is shocking,” says Thomas Cafcas, the report’s author.
Cafcas says the reasons contractors give for not hiring District residents—including their lack of education/training and habitual drug use—don’t square with the higher construction numbers found in other cities or the fact that there’s almost no educational requirement needed for bottom-rung construction jobs. He recommends the city strengthen its efforts to enforce the recently beefed-up First Source law, which requires contractors to hire District residents. Unions love First Source, while several contractors despise it, saying it creates an unfair caste system and forces them to hire subpar workers.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery