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GW ranks as fourth largest District employer, report says

Lexi Critchett | Staff Photographer
A dining employee prepares toppings at D.C. Taco House.

GW was the fourth largest employer in the District in 2023, according to an annual D.C. financial report released last month.

The 2023 Comprehensive Financial Report, a yearly report by the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, listed GW as the fourth largest employer in the District for the second consecutive year. Georgetown University, Children’s National Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center ranked as the first, second and third largest D.C. employers in 2023, respectively.

GW placed as the second largest employer in the District between 2010 and 2017, except for 2014, when it was the third largest D.C. employer. Since 2017, GW has gradually dropped in the employment rankings, falling to third in 2018, fourth in 2019 and fifth in 2021.

An Ngo | Graphics Editors

American University, Howard University and Catholic University of America were the fifth, 10th and 12th largest employers in the District in 2023.

The report states there were 773,400 total employees in D.C. in 2023, which marks an increase by about 12,300 in comparison to 2022. D.C. has steadily grown in employment since 2021, when the District hit a 10-year low with 729,000 employees.

Keith Waters — the assistant director of the Stephen S. Fuller Institute, an economic development research center, at George Mason University — said GW may not have shrunk in its number of employees and that other organizations like Children’s National Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center, which both bested GW in employment size, may have grown more in employment than the University.

“Even if GW had stayed constant, those two could have just grown slightly faster and pushed GW’s rank down,” Waters said.

John Thelin, research professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky’s College of Education, said the presence of an academic medical center is the biggest factor in determining a university’s number of employees.

GW Hospital and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, which ranked 13th and sixth in employment, respectively, operate as separate entities from their universities.

“This will be dominant in the local economy and will dominate the university-wide employment trends,” Thelin said in an email about academic medical centers.

GW has tried to boost employment through programs like the Employee Referral Bonus Program formed in January 2022, which rewards eligible employees who refer “exceptional” people to fill vacant positions. In April 2022, the Board of Trustees launched a search for 44 new tenure faculty members, prioritizing female and underrepresented minority candidates.

Leah Brooks, the director of the Center for Washington Area Studies at GW, a University research center that conducts “policy-relevant” studies of urban areas in and around the District, said D.C. has experienced slower employment growth than surrounding areas like Northern Virginia. She said companies are more likely to move their operations outside of cities as they grow.

“This holds for big cities of all stripes, not just D.C.,” Brooks said in an email.

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