Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was written by Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette. It originally appeared in ARLbiz, our weekly Arlington business e-newsletter. You can subscribe to ARLbiz here.
On New Year’s Day, I announced that my focus this year as Arlington County Board Chairman will be on sustainability – the ability to prosper through change. A key element of that focus for me will be laying the groundwork for Arlington to become a hub for the innovation economy.
Everything we do should be judged by how it advances our goal of building a community that will sustain Arlingtonians for generations to come. We have such a strong foundation on which to build.
When I moved to Arlington in 1983 — 31 years ago — it was a somewhat sleepy place with an uncertain future. Arlington had made the commitment to transit as our prime engine of redevelopment but we were not sure how far it could take us. Today, 40 percent of all transit trips in the state — in the entire state — begin or end in Arlington. After years of persistence, patience and sound investment, the unprecedented prosperity that has resulted is clear.
Today, other localities are learning from us and making smarter planning decisions themselves. We face a rapidly changing economy and increased competition as the Silver Line brings rail transit to Tyson’s and beyond and DC creates new office markets. To tackle these challenges, the County Manager, accompanied by Board Members, went on a listening tour in the business community. What we heard on that tour helped me formulate my action plan. Owners of businesses both small and large love this community and value the business opportunities here, but we heard thoughtful suggestions from them on how we can make Arlington an even better place to do business.
We know that Arlington has amazing assets that will continue to be a fundamental part of our economic strength. Our location is not going to change. National Airport and the Pentagon are not going anywhere. Our outstanding transportation system, smart growth policies and great schools will be protected and enhanced. Did you know that today’s Arlington has the nation’s highest concentration of 25 to 34-year-olds — and is the home of the region’s “creative class?”
In the coming months, as part of my six-point plan, we will be presenting ideas for accelerating the growth of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor’s science, technology, art, research and education eco-system; strengthening communications and partnerships between County government, businesses, entrepreneurs and residents; updating our Retail Action Plan; and strategically marketing Arlington to businesses and developers nationally.
These initiatives will help ensure that Arlington is a leader in the innovation economy — the 21st-century economy of flexible, creative enterprises and high-tech products and services.
You can read my entire January 1 speech on the County website.
It is an ambitious agenda — but this is an ambitious community. We lean forward and are good at turning challenges into opportunities. Arlington’s future is bright. Together, we will continue to build a community that is a model of sustainability, diversity and civic engagement – a place that other communities look to for inspiration.
Chairman, Arlington County Board
The pages of Craigslist are filled with budding young professionals who, unable to afford their own Metro-accessible apartments in high-rent Arlington, instead search for roommates and shared housing. In the past few years, a growing number of young businesses have been taking a similar approach to office space in Arlington: cheaper rent, good location and good company.
Five coworking offices have moved into Arlington in the past two years: UberOffices in Rosslyn, Carr Workplaces in Rosslyn and Clarendon, Link Locale in Clarendon and, most recently, The Ground Floor in Rosslyn in the same building as UberOffices.
The spaces offer relatively cheap rent in one of the country’s most expensive commercial real estate markets, and the flexibility to grow. Technology startups in Arlington and around the county have flocked to the business incubator-style setting, with in-house services, conference rooms and amenities usually reserved for large companies.
The spaces provide support in the form of kitchen space, conference rooms, and a variety of amenities. UberOffices, for instance, has video games and a foosball table. The Ground Floor, which opened this month, has a dedicated space for events.
“This concept has been around for a long time,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce President Rich Doud said. “It just hadn’t caught on, but I think the future will kind of force situations like this.”
Josh Newsome and Kaitlyn Walthall are a two-person team for Collins Engineering. They moved into UberOffices in January from a workspace in Tysons Corner. The Ballston residents said the search for a place with their requirements “two desks and high-speed Internet” was surprisingly difficult.
“There are only two of us,” Walthall said. “This is the only way to work together that’s not in a coffee shop.”
‘Luxury’ Apartment Rent Falling in Arlington — Rents for Class A apartments in Arlington and Alexandria fell 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, “a clear sign that the supply of new apartments is catching up to demand.” The average Class A rent in Arlington and Alexandria is $1,973 a month. [UrbanTurf]
Kroger Buys Harris Teeter — Ohio-based grocery chain Kroger has purchased Harris Teeter. So far, the company is not planning any significant changes for Harris Teeter stores, which will retain their branding and management. [Washington Post]
Still No Tenants for Rosslyn Skyscraper — The new 35-story office building at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn — now the D.C. area’s tallest building other than the Washington Monument — is set to open in October. However, the building, which was built “on spec” by owner Monday Properties, could open without a single tenant. [WJLA]
All-American Honors for DJO Softball Stars — Bishop O’Connell softball stars (and recent graduates) Tori Finucane and Jillian Ferraro have been chosen as All-Americans by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Fairfax May Be ‘Big Winner’ From Streetcar — The Columbia Pike streetcar may be an economic boon to Fairfax County. Fairfax is planning to use its portion of the future streetcar system to lure office tenants to the Skyline and Baileys Crossroads areas. Already, promise of the streetcar might be helping to sway the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move to Skyline from Ballston. [Sun Gazette]
Office Absorption Down as Sequester Takes Hold — The D.C. region, particularly Northern Virginia, is shedding office tenants. The region typically “absorbs” about 900,000 square feet of office space per quarter, but posted a negative 100,000 square foot absorption figure between April and June. Tenant downsizing and federal job losses and budget cuts are being blamed for the poor absorption figures. [Globe St]
Brink Unopposed in Upcoming Election — Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) is running unopposed for reelection in November, after the Libertarian candidate he was set to face dropped out of the race. Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rob Krupicka, all Democrats, area facing a Libertarian, an Independent Green and and independent candidate, respectively. So far, no Republican challengers have been announced. [Sun Gazette]
Library Seeking LEGO Artists — Arlington Public Library is seeking LEGO builders ages 18 and under to help design and build LEGO structures for display at a library. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
The United States continues to battle Japan for the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. It is not a place in the world rankings we should aspire to hold if we want to remain the global economic leader for generations to come. While our unemployment rate is inching down, too many Americans have simply given up looking for work. So, it is incumbent upon elected officials to create a pro-growth environment at every level of government.
This week Virginia gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli outlined his Economic Growth & Virginia Jobs Plan. It touches on a number of items, but I wanted to highlight three:
First, the plan calls for capping state government spending growth at no more than the rate of population plus inflation. This is a common sense measure that would give legislators in Richmond a reasonable budget to work with every two years. Hopefully, the idea would be given the force and effect of law rather than simply be stated as a goal.
Second, the plan would reduce the corporate income tax rate to 4 percent, which would make Virginia’s rate one of the most attractive in the country. Certainly, one of the ways, other than savings from a cap in spending growth, to accommodate the tax rate reduction is by heeding Cuccinelli’s call to curtail special interest tax breaks. Leveling the playing field for all businesses in Virginia makes sense.
Third, the plan would create a Small Business Tax Relief Commission. One of the goals of this commission is to reduce or eliminate the BPOL tax. As noted last week, BPOL is a tax on gross receipts, not income. This tax particularly hurts businesses with the slimmest profit margins.
Making jobs and the economy his first specific policy rollout sends a strong signal about the highest priority of the Cuccinelli campaign. For comparison, Terry McAuliffe’s website does feature an issue section with a page on jobs or the economy. His sole economic growth policy position is that we should invest in the creation of “green jobs”, which probably means taxpayer funded special interest incentives. McAuliffe has maintained this priority even after a string of negative reports on his GreenTech Automotive venture. Based on GreenTech, and failed companies like Solyndra, Virginians should be wary of any government attempts to pick winners and losers.
Competition for businesses, and the jobs they bring, will continue between states. We should expect our next governor to have a plan to make Virginia number one in private sector job creation.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
The development of 5.3 million square feet of office, 836,543 square feet of retail and 7,572 residential units in Arlington has been approved by the county but is not yet under construction, according to the 2012 Arlington County Government annual report. That’s up from last year’s annual report, when 4.3 million square feet of office, 813,479 square feet of retail and 5,839 residential units were approved and awaiting construction.
As of Sept. 30, approximately 1 million square feet of office, 150,000 square feet of retail and 1,380 residential units were under construction, up about 50 percent, 70 percent and 20 percent year-over-year, respectively.
The figures are a reflection of continued developer interest in Arlington County, despite economic competition from D.C. and the new Silver Line corridor.
“The increased competition from the Silver Line construction certainly exists, and our team is working diligently to showcase the opportunity that exists in Arlington,” said Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. “Developers are continuing to plan new and exciting projects in Arlington, and our BizLaunch program works with as many as 3,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses every year.”
Still, some believe that the Silver Line may take some Metro-oriented development away from Arlington, particularly after the first section of the rail line — running from Reston and Tysons to Arlington and D.C. — opens in late 2013 or early 2014.
Most of the projects not yet under construction in Arlington were approved in the past 5 years, although some date back to the 1990s and one dates back to 1981. All told, there is about 40 million square feet of office space in Arlington, plus 43,000 residential units along Metro corridors and 105,000 residential units countywide, based on the county’s 2012 profile.
The developments approved but not yet under construction (as of 11/1/12) include:
- Rosslyn Gateway Phases 1 & 2 — 1901 Ft. Myer Drive — 490,056 sq ft office / 26,376 sq ft retail / 273 residential units / 148 hotel rooms
- Rosslyn Commons Townhouses — 1500 Clarendon Blvd — 25 residential units
- Central Place — 1801 N. Moore Street — 570,549 sq ft office / 44,554 sq ft retail / 374 residential units
- Wakefield Manor — 2025 Fairfax Drive — 188 residential units
- 1919 Clarendon Blvd (Hollywood Video Site) — 1919 Clarendon Blvd — 24,657 sq ft retail / 198 residential units
- The Tellus — 2009 14th Street N. — 10,674 sq ft office / 4,354 sq ft retail / 254 residential units
- Washington View – 2001 Clarendon Blvd — 32,840 sq ft retail / 154 residential units
- NTSA Office Site — 1840 Wilson Blvd — 107,920 sq ft office / 10,000 sq ft retail
- Demar Office Building — 2311 Wilson Blvd — 100,328 sq ft office / 4,906 sq ft retail
- 3001 Washington Blvd (Penzance) – 3001 Washington Blvd — 284,012 sq ft office / 22,479 sq ft retail
- Beacon at Clarendon West (formerly The Waverly) — 1200 N. Irving Street — 18,299 sq ft retail / 195 residential units
- 3901 Fairfax Drive – 3901 Fairfax Drive — 178,131 sq ft office / 3,200 sq ft retail
- Virginia Square Towers – 3440 Fairfax Drive — 12,815 sq ft retail / 540 residential units
- 3803 Fairfax Drive Expansion — 3803 Fairfax Drive — 43,045 sq ft office
- 650 N. Glebe Road (Goodyear Site) — 650 N. Glebe Road — 2,203 sq ft retail / 163 residential units
- Founder’s Square North Office — 707 N. Randolph Street — 418,810 sq ft office / 7,670 sq ft retail
- The Place (Founder’s Square North Residential) — 4000 Wilson Blvd — 9,035 sq ft retail / 256 residential units
- Peck/Staples/AHC Townhouses — 815 N. Woodrow Street — 28 residential units
- The Spire/Fairmont — 4420 Fairfax Drive — 9,200 sq ft retail / 237 residential units
- 1900 Crystal Drive — 1900 Crystal Drive — 719,704 sq ft office / 11,290 sq ft retail
- Boeing Site — 608 S. Ball Street — 453,422 sq ft office
- Potomac Yard Land Bays C & D — 3001 Jefferson Davis Hwy — 1,064,298 sq ft office / 73,696 sq ft retail / 691 residential units
- Lofts at Crystal Houses — 1900 S. Eads Street — 252 residential units
- Crystal City Retail Phase II – 2010 Crystal Drive — 84,034 sq ft office / 92,920 sq ft retail
- Airport Plaza IV — 2600 Crystal Drive — 198 residential units
- Pentagon City PDSP Parcel 3 — 501 15th Street S. — 64,231 sq ft retail / 1,172 residential units / 300 hotel rooms
- Pentagon City PDSP Parcel 1D — 1197 S. Fern Street — 930 residential units / 582 hotel rooms
- The Acadia (Three Metropolitan Park) – 1201 S. Fern Street — 16,345 sq ft retail / 411 residential units
- Pentagon Centre Phases 1-3 – 1201 S. Hayes Street — 776,982 sq ft office / 327,070 sq ft retail / 600 residential units / 250 hotel rooms
- Pike 3400 — 3400 Columbia Pike — 15,443 sq ft retail / 301 residential units
- Axumite Village – 1100 S. Highland Street — 36 residential units
- Columbia Place — 1100 S. Edgewood Street — 2,960 sq ft retail / 22 residential units
- Buckingham Townhomes Village I — 424 N. George Mason Drive — 68 residential units
- Greenbrier Village Phase II — 2251 N. Greenbrier Street — 4 residential units
- 705/707 N. Barton Street – 705 N. Barton Street — 2 residential units
Budget Cuts May Hurt Local Economic Growth — With looming budget cuts and the possible implications of the fiscal cliff, the D.C. area economy is starting to look more vulnerable and more like the rest of the country, according to economists. The federal government and information job categories have seen losses recently, and slower economic growth is expected over the next two decades. [Sun Gazette]
Residents Still Wary of Homeless Shelter — Residents have of the Woodbury Heights condominium in Courthouse, who have been speaking out against the county’s planned year-round homeless shelter at 2020 14th Street N., have been working with Arlington and its contractors on changes to the design of the building. Residents want the entrance to the shelter to be as far away from their building as possible. One homeless advocate, frustrated with the residents’ continued opposition to the shelter, called the attendees at a recent community meeting “the biggest group of snobs I’ve ever seen.” [Patch]
Library Recommends Audiobooks for Holiday Trips — Arlington Public Library has some recommendations for family-friendly audiobooks to make your holiday road trip go faster. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool by John Sonderman
Three Democratic members of Congress from northern Virginia, including Rep. Jim Moran, have sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) in support of avoiding the “economic disaster” of sequestration through a “balanced approach to deficit reduction.”
The letter asks McDonnell to “prod” Republicans in Congress to support a deficit reduction package that closes tax loopholes, eliminates “unneeded subsidies,” and avoids deep cuts to social safety net programs.
Sequestration could cost Virginia 207,000 jobs and $20.9 billion in lost economic activity, according to one economist.
From a press release:
Congressmen Jim Moran (VA-08), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), and Bobby Scott (VA-03) wrote to Governor Bob McDonnell today detailing the impact sequestration cuts would have on Virginia families and urging Gov. McDonnell to use his leadership position in the national Republican Party to prod House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor “to begin discussions on a balanced deficit reduction package that can garner bipartisan support” and avoid an economic disaster for the Commonwealth.
The Virginia lawmakers were responding to McDonnell’s October 9 letter urging President Obama and the Virginia Congressional delegation to support a House Republican “cuts-only” plan that would shift all defense cuts to safety-net domestic programs. “We were puzzled by your recent letter to the President and congressional delegation urging support for the cuts-only approach,” the three Democratic lawmakers wrote. “Your concerns about the impact on Virginia of a sequester to defense spending, which we share, applies almost equally to nondefense discretionary spending, to which your letter is silent.”
The lawmakers questioned Governor McDonnell’s support of the “Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act” (H.R. 5652) passed by the House on May 10 on a party line vote. The legislation would prevent the sequestration cuts to defense programs by cutting an additional $300 billion over the next 10 years from safety net programs like Medicare, SNAP (food stamps), and non-profit health clinics providing preventive services. The bill also requires all current and future federal workers to pay an additional 5 percent of their salary toward their federal pensions. “Contrary to its title, this bill does not avert sequestration, instead shifting cuts to safety-net domestic programs in the early years and leaving the door open to across-the-board cuts in later years.”
Along with the defense cuts and their impact on Virginia’s federal contracting sector, sequestration could trigger massive layoffs in the federal workforce, and would result in fewer air traffic controllers, border guards, food inspectors, and cuts to public safety and nearly every other government function. The House Republican bill advanced by McDonnell would only make those cuts more severe since it contains no balance of new revenue.
Ironically, in 2011, Governor McDonnell wrote the Virginia delegation calling for a bipartisan solution with all options, including revenue, on the table. The cuts-only approach advocated by Governor McDonnell in his October letter departs from his previous bipartisan approach. “Last year…we applauded your initiative. We hope you will join us in calling on Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to begin discussions on a balanced deficit reduction package that can garner bipartisan support. We stand ready to work with you to achieve a balanced solution that delivers on the tradition of our Commonwealth,” Connolly, Moran, and Scott wrote.
Sequestration, which mandates $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, came about after House Republicans, for the first time in history, refused to support the President’s request for a clean debt limit bill and instead demanded massive cuts. A commission formed in the aftermath failed to reach agreement on the savings when Republicans refused to consider closing tax loopholes, ending unneeded subsidies or any other revenue measures, and walked away from the table.
Unless Congress is able to find these savings, on January 2nd, defense spending immediately will be cut by about 10 percent, while non-defense discretionary spending will be cut by roughly 8 percent, and payments to Medicare providers will be cut by two percent – a total reduction in spending of $110 billion for fiscal year 2013.
Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University predicted sequestration cuts could cost Virginia 207,000 jobs and put a $20.9 billion hole in Virginia’s economy.
Connolly, Moran, Scott, and other Democrats in Congress have repeatedly urged the House Republican leadership to cancel the 5-week August recess and the current 7-week recess to bring Congress back to Washington to deal with sequestration and other pressing fiscal matters that expire at the end of the calendar year.
October 18 Connolly, Moran, Scott Letter to Gov. McDonnell – http://connolly.house.gov/uploads/McDonnell%20sequester%20response%20Connolly%20-%20Moran%20-%20Scott%2010-18-12.pdf
October 10 Letter from McDonnell to President Obama and Virginia delegation – http://connolly.house.gov/uploads/McDonnell%20sequester%20letter%20to%20POTUS%2010-10-12.pdf
McDonnell Letter of July 2011 from McDonnell to President Obama and Virginia delegation – http://connolly.house.gov/uploads/McDonnell%20to%20President%20on%20debt%20ceiling%2007-20-11.pdf
“We are not in a recession,” Moran campaign spokesman Austin Durrer was quoted as saying, according to the Murray campaign. The remark was made at the 2012 Northern Virginia Asian Pacific American Candidates Forum in Fairfax.
In response, the Murray campaign issued a blistering press release.
Jim Moran’s spokesman, Austin Durrer, had the audacity to tell the audience that our economy is fine and we have nothing to worry about.
“We are not in a recession,” said the Moran spokesman.
One might think that it was just a slip of the tongue or a slight miscommunication, until you realize that this is the conventional thought at Team Moran.
On June 29 of this year, Jim Moran went on the Martin Bashir show to say, “people are not going bankrupt…This is a wealthy country, we’re not broke.”
In response, 8th District congressional candidate Patrick Murray said, “How can Moran’s campaign say that to the 20 million unemployed and underemployed Americans? With the real unemployment rate over 14%, months upon months of job losses, escalating national debt, and sequestration on the horizon, the Moran campaign thinks that the economy is fine and we’re not ‘broke’. I’m not sure if this is some horrible case of groupthink at the Moran headquarters, or if he’s just that disconnected from the average American.”
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research — which is generally regarded as the authority on recessions in the U.S. — the most recent recession lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. Since then, the United States has experienced 12 quarters of positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. One rule of thumb for determining a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP.
The Moran campaign responded to the Murray camp’s press release with a statement of its own.
Ask any reputable economist when the Great Recession ended and they’ll tell you June of 2009, over three years ago. But clearly, far too many people are still out of work and the economy needs to grow faster.
It’s troubling that our opponent continues to talk down the economy for partisan political purposes. That kind of mentality won’t create a single job and in fact encourages businesses to continue hoarding cash rather than investing in the future. We’re fortunate that Northern Virginia has been an outlier from the rest of the country over the past four years of economic struggles.
While there’s still much work to be done, we have an unemployment rate that’s half the national average and major companies like Hilton and Northrop Grumman continue to relocate here. It’s in large part due to our region’s interconnectedness with the federal government, our largest employer, and synergies that relationship creates with the private sector.
Congressman Moran has played no small part in this success, whether by protecting federal employees from draconian conservative efforts to dismantle our civil service, which would be a disaster for our region’s economy, or through his senior position on the powerful Appropriations Committee. That’s one of the many reasons he deserves to be reelected and continues to have overwhelming public support from his district.
Murray campaign spokesman Reece Collins countered:
“Some economists would argue that we’ve entered another recession. Regardless, Moran’s campaign cannot say with a straight face that the economy is fine. With sequestration around the corner, and over 100,000 Virginians who will lose their jobs, the Moran campaign hunkers down and tells everyone that we are fine, there is no recession, we aren’t broke.”
Arlington County has released the latest version of its annual Profile publication, a compendium of vital statistics about the county. The 2012 Arlington County Profile includes information about the county’s demographics, economy and cultural resources.
In terms of population, Arlington’s Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) department estimates that there are 99,900 total household in the county. Arlington’s population, meanwhile, will exceed a quarter of a million by 2040, according to CPHD forecasts.
- 2012 Population: 211,700
- 2012 Employment: 227,500 (jobs located in Arlington)
- 2040 Population: 252,400 (est.)
- 2040 Employment: 308,400 (est.)
Government was the top job sector in Arlington, based on 2012 estimates.
- Government: 26.4%
- Professional and technical services: 20.7%
- Hospitality and food: 7.1%
- Transportation and warehousing: 4.5%
- Real estate: 3.7%
- Information: 2.9%
- Finance and insurance: 2.4%
- Construction: 2.1%
- Other services: 21.4%
- Other (including retail): 8.9%
As of 2011, the top ten private employers were:
- Deloitte: 5,100 jobs
- Lockheed Martin: 2,700 jobs
- Virginia Hospital Center: 2,120 jobs
- Marriott International: 1,940 jobs
- Bureau of National Affairs: 1,906 jobs
- Booz Allen Hamilton: 1,400 jobs
- SRA International: 1,360 jobs
- CACI: 1,217 jobs
- SAIC: 1,200 jobs
- Corporate Executive Board: 1,060 jobs
Arlington’s economy remains strong, with low unemployment and high household income. The 2012 median household income in Arlington is $99,600, while per capita income is $78,000. Total retail sales in Arlington came to $3.14 billion in 2011. The residential rental vacancy rate was 4.6 percent while the average rent went up by 2 percent from 2010 to 2011. Arlington’s civilian labor force of 141,073 had an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent as of March 2011.
Arlington’s 2012 tax base was divided between 49 percent commercial and 51 percent residential.
Arlington is also rich culturally. The county had 8 libraries, 149 county parks, 13 community centers, 3 nature centers, 6 senior centers, 120 athletic fields, 118 tennis and basketball courts, and 86 miles of bicycle routes and jogging trails.
According to new state tourism figures, visitors spent nearly $2.5 billion in Arlington in 2010, an increase of more than 6 percent compared to 2009. Tourism revenue was still down slightly from its peak in 2008.
Tourism was responsible for 23,164 jobs and a total payroll of $790 million in Arlington in 2010, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation. The county collected some $72 million in tax receipts as a result of tourism, and the state collected $81 million from Arlington tourists.
Arlington remained the top destination for tourists in Virginia, responsible for 13 percent of overall tourism-related spending in the Commonwealth.
“We’re happy to see such healthy increases in guest spending and tourism payrolls, especially in light of ongoing economic challenges,” said Emily Cassell, director of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service, in a statement. “Huge credit goes to Arlington’s hospitality businesses — 43 hotels and hundreds of stores, restaurants and service providers committed to offering an excellent visitor experience at every opportunity.”
AFAC served 1572 families, or 4006 individuals, last week. The previous high was hit on Nov. 21, 2009, when AFAC served 1524 families during its traditionally busy Thanksgiving distribution week. Last month, AFAC saw its highest average monthly number of families served: 1450.
“Most of the individuals, I would say, are affected by the recession,” AFAC Executive Director Charles Meng told ARLnow.com. “The issue remains that unemployment among the lower income brackets in Arlington County is still very high. Those individuals are still not finding jobs, or are getting jobs that pay minimum wage.”
Meng said that while Arlington’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country, the relative prosperity has not trickled down to lower-income individuals, who are having a hard time finding full-time employment that pays the bills. According to Meng, it takes a wage of about $12.50 to $13.00 per hour to live in Arlington.
“Rents are high and the price of various commodities are higher here than elsewhere,” he said. “We do see some of our clients getting jobs, but they’re not full time and they’re not at a living wage for Arlington County.”
While previous growth in the number of individuals served by AFAC came from senior citizens, Meng says the latest growth came from an increase in families utilizing AFAC’s S. Nelson Street, Clarendon and Gunston distribution sites. The organization operates about a dozen distribution sites around the county.
The good news, according to an AFAC press release, is that donations are increasing.
“Food donations are beginning to increase with the start of the school year and cash donations are on the rise,” the organization said. “Both should continue to increase through the holidays.”
Meng said AFAC can meet current demand, but added: “We can always use donations.”
Now, as the national economy teeters once again, there’s some question of whether the local economy can remain an island of vibrancy. With federal discretionary spending decreasing, and with the possibility of even steeper cuts down the road, Uncle Sam may not be able to provide the steady flow of cash that kept the local economy going during the last recessionary period.
The local economic indicators are a mixed bag. Unemployment in Arlington is still remarkably low, at 3.9 percent. Home sales are up in the most recent period, but home sale prices are down considerably in Arlington and in the D.C. metro area.
How do you feel about the direction the local economy is heading?
Civic boosters once tried to brand Rosslyn as “Manhattan on the Potomac.”
The connection between Times Square and N. Lynn Street pretty much stopped at the WJLA news ticker, but there is one actual similarity between Manhattan and Arlington as a whole.
Among U.S. counties nationwide, Arlington is second only to Manhattan in terms of average wage per job.
Recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that Manhattan workers make an average of $109,028, compared to the $102,373 average income of Arlington workers.
According to the Business Journals, Manhattan and Arlington “are the only two major U.S. counties where average compensation is higher than $100,000 per job.”
On a conference call today, Rep. Jim Moran (D) said he believe the odds of a federal shutdown at the end of the week is about 50/50 — a dark omen for Arlington and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions whose economies rely heavily on federal employment.
If such a shutdown were to happen, Moran says he believes that furloughed federal employees would not be reimbursed for their time off due to Republican opposition to such a move. A shutdown could last several weeks and have a “severe impact” on the local economy, Moran warned.
“This is very, very, serious,” Moran said. “Federal employees need to understand that this is not 1995, when we closed down… and [employees] were fully reimbursed.”
“About a million federal employees will not be working, and it is highly unlikely they will ever be reimbursed,” Moran continued. “Not only is this going to hurt the overall economy in the metropolitan Washington area that I represent, but it is going to have a very severe impact on employee’s abilities to make their mortgage payments, their car payments, etc.”
“Every private sector element in my district’s economy is going to be adversely affected,” Moran added.
Others on the conference call pegged the number of federal employees who would be furloughed during a shut down at around 800,000 nationwide, including Department of Defense civilians. Moran said the impact would likely to extend to government contractors.
“If this continues I think there’s going to be a number of smaller contractors that will simply go out of business because the [federal agencies] aren’t giving them the kind of cash flow they need to survive,” he said. Backing up that suggestion, Moran’s office pointed out that 20 percent of government contracts in the D.C. area were adversely affected during the 1995 shutdown.