Among other trends in Fairfax County, commercial office vacancy rates have reached 18 percent and federal jobs have been lost to budget cuts. Government contractors have consolidated their operations. (In 2013, $23 billion in federal government contract work was carried out in Fairfax County, the highest concentration of such work in the Country). Also, the County is forecasting that new jobs will primarily emerge in diverse sectors, such as healthcare, retail and hospitality.

We have seen this changing environment impact our residents. For example, several of our newer residents are employed in the healthcare or retail sector. Here I’m thinking about our residents who work as operating room technicians, hematologists, or home-based nurses — just to name a few. Also, we recently leased up two families whose heads of household work in retail. Both of these families are headed by young mothers with small children; and both of these mothers work as front-end managers of retail stores — one at Harris Teeter and the other at Dollar Tree.

These residents have, in fact, prospered in the new environment. At the same time, other residents have seen their hours cut or have even suffered job losses. Many of these residents are tied to government-sponsored work either as federal government employees or contractors. For these residents, we help them evaluate employment opportunities and identify other sectors that may provide a more secure working future.