WASHINGTON, DC-New statistics from the Labor Department bodewell for the nation’s still-painful unemployment picture and, byextension, the DC area as well. The Labor Department has reportedthat weekly unemployment claims dropped by 34,000 to a seasonallyadjusted 407,000. It was a much steeper drop than Wall Streetanalysts had expected despite the traditionally volatile periodbetween Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. Claims may rise again, butoptimists note they have been steadily trending down for the pastseveral weeks.

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For the DC area, which has maintained relatively stableemployment, albeit with higher unemployment levels than theaverage, the news is good as upwardly trending employment couldgive the office sector a much-needed boost. “We haven’t seen theOctober unemployment figures yet, but I don’t believe they willhold bad news for the DC area,” Jeffrey Kottmeier, vice presidentand director of research at Cassidy Turley, tells GlobeSt.com.“This will still be a top-growth region.” He points to figures thatshow the local job markets gaining year to date through October,compared to 2009.

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Specifically, 32,000 jobs were added to local job rolls. Theprofessional and business services sector--a key measure foroffice--gained 11,200 jobs, Kottmeier says, while the federalgovernment added 11,400 jobs in the same period. “What has beeninteresting about federal employment figures is that they are stillrising even though the temporary jobs that gave the numbers a boostearlier this year--such as with Census--have been weeded out,” herelates.

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In fact, Scott Homa, research director for Jones Lang LaSalle,tells GlobeSt.com that Metro DC’s employment performance is now inline with normalized economic conditions. “Relative to thecontinued volatility seen throughout much of the country, the MetroDC region continues to outperform the nation and exhibit the soundfundamentals that make it one of the most durable and resilienteconomies in the world,” he says.

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