NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Who Would Believe D.C. As A Silicon Center?

July 21, 1999

Ever since the nation's founding, Washington, D.C., has been synonymous with the Federal Government. Headline writers use the words interchangeably -- as in "Washington Considers Tax Cuts."

But as the federal government workforce has shrunk in the 1990s, high-tech industries have sprung up -- offering job opportunities to former bureaucrats. The city is not about to dethrone Silicon Valley. But the change is dramatic.

  • In the last seven years, the number of federal jobs in Washington and nearby areas of Maryland and Virginia has fallen 14.6 percent -- to 333,700 positions in 1998 from 390,700 in 1992.
  • Meanwhile, federal employees in the Washington area made up 13.1 percent of all workers last year -- compared to 25 percent in 1972.
  • Since 1992, the number of high-tech jobs in the metro area has risen 33 percent to 195,600 from 147,200, according to the consulting firm Regional Financial Associates.
  • High-tech jobs represented 7.7 percent of all jobs in the area last year -- compared to 2.5 percent in 1972.

The Washington area now ranks third as a high-tech center, behind California's Silicon Valley and Boston's Route 128 corridor.

Source: Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, "High Tech Transforms Washington Area," Wall Street Journal, July 21, 1999.


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