The District is the economic engine of the Washington metropolitan region and a national center of economic importance. However, to remain strong, the District needs to keep its growth rate high and to continue to diversify its economy to reduce its reliance on the federal government. Unemployment rates are unequal across the city. Recent analysis shows that the unemployment rate for Black residents is 12.9 percent—more than eight times higher than the unemployment rate for White residents at just 1.5 percent.
The District’s economic plan, the DC Economic Development Strategy, has two goals: 1) grow a vibrant and resilient economy driven by private sector expansion, and 2) foster economic prosperity for all District residents by increasing job opportunities and decreasing employment disparities. The Economy section of Sustainable DC 2.0 mirrors these goals, with the added context of sustainability. Focusing on sustainability, related goods and services will help grow the economy and create new jobs—both in the District and regionally. For example, in 2016, U.S. job opportunities in the solar industry increased by 25 percent and the number of people working in the wind energy field increased by 32 percent.
To prepare residents—especially underemployed residents—to work in the green economy, training programs with wraparound services are necessary. The District Government has several successful existing models for green job training programs, including Solar Works DC, which provides 12 weeks of hands-on training in solar energy, and the DC Infrastructure Academy, which recruits, screens, and trains residents for jobs in high growth infrastructure fields.The Department of Energy and Environment also runs several green employment initiatives, including the Green Zone Environmental Program which teaches young adults about energy and environmental issues, and provides work experience on projects such as installing solar, building rain gardens, and installing storm drain markers.
Sustainable DC 2.0’s actions on the economy have real benefits for Washington, DC at all levels:
Individual: Green jobs can pay well! The median hourly wage for solar installers in the District is $26, which equals roughly $54,000 annually as a fulltime job.
Neighborhood: The green economy also helps businesses save money by being more sustainable. The District Government offers innovative financing and generous financial incentives to help small businesses use less energy, install solar panel and green roofs, while other financing programs help business of any size tackle the costs of installing energy efficiency measures.
District: The highest unemployment rates in the District are in Wards 7 and 8 among Black residents without a bachelor’s degree. To help address this disparity, the Sustainable DC 2.0 Plan recommends providing effective green job training programs. Smart, green job-training programs are an important part of the solution.
Sustainable DC Economy Goals:
- Grow and diversify the District’s economy, focusing on sustainability, climate, and resilience industries.
- Train District residents to be competitive for livable wage jobs in growing industries such as sustainability, the environment, and resilience.
Read the entire Economy section below, or read the whole plan here.
Interested in creating or finding a career in these fields? Read more about available jobs and job training pathways here.
There are ways to take action at home and in your community: learn more here.