Prince William County Jobs Picture In One Word: Pathetic

I have long decried the lack of good paying private sector jobs located in Prince William County as well as the imbalance between residential and commercial tax revenues. Well, here’s the wake-up call on this in the form of the largest employers located in the county and you can easily see why so many county residents must endure lengthy daily commutes to earn their livings elsewhere.

50 Largest Employers in Prince William County

1. Prince William County School Board
2. U.S. Department of Defense
3. County of Prince William
4. Wal Mart
5. Morale Welfare and Recreation
6. Sentara Healthcare
7. Wegmans Store #07
8. Northern Virginia Community College
9. Minnieland Private Day School
10. Target Corp
11. Lowes’ Home Centers, Inc.
12. George Mason University
13. Red Lobster & The Olive Garden
14. Comcast Cablevision
15. Food Lion
16. Giant Food
17. Sfx Entertainment
18. New Horizon Security Services
19. Ulta
20. Costco
21. American Type Culture Collection
22. McDonald’s
23. McDonald’s
24. Northern Pipeline Construction
25. Northern Virginia Healthcare
26. Catholic Diocese of Arlington
27. Ikea Us East LLC
28. Harris Teeter Supermarket
29. The Home Depot
30. Best Buy
31. Postal Service
32. S.W. Rogers Company
33. Safeway
34. Kohl’s Department Stores
35. Prince William County Service Authority
36. McDonald’s
37. First Transit Inc
38. US Foodservice
39. Northern Virginia Electric Co-operative
40. Oasis Outsourcing
41. Total Development Solutions
42. Westminster At Lake Ridge
43. Lustine Toyota Inc
44. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
45. Sverdrup Technology
46. Administaff
47. H & M Hennes & Mauritz LP
48. Progeny Systems Corporation
49. CVS Pharmacy
50. Pizza Hut

Source: Virginia Employment Commission, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), 3rd Quarter (July, August, September) 2013 (page 21)

That’s right, McDonald’s made the list three times in the top 50. Five more are grocery stores, nine are big box or departments stores, and three are other restaurants including Pizza Hut, Red Lobster / The Olive Garden, and Cracker Barrel. To sum it up in one word, this is pathetic.

When you look at county employment by industry (page 22 of the same report), the problem is abundantly clear. The single largest employer in the county is “Government” at 25,315 of which 16,098 are at the county level. Many of these are teachers working in the school system, so we should not discount that. However, any economy that relies so heavily upon government for employment is ultimately unsustainable.

The next two largest industries in Prince William County are “Retail Trade” at 21,226 and “Accomodation and Food Services” with 13,040. Meanwhile, so-called “new economy” industries such as “Information” and “Finance and Insurance” rank towards the very bottom of the list at 1,361 and 1,910 respectively.

I’ve seen this movie before and don’t like how it ends. PWC has adopted the economic model of states such as New York and Massachusetts, one that results in higher taxes and residential flight. We are not yet at the point of no return when it comes to this, but we are getting dangerously close to it. Only wholesale change at the county level has the potential to reverse this.

UPDATE: Our friend Connie Moser wrote an op-ed for Potomac Local based upon the report prior to this one and came to this sad realization —

It appears if you are a professional Oracle DBA with many years of experience, you will not find a job in Prince William County, with or without a clearance.


11 thoughts on “Prince William County Jobs Picture In One Word: Pathetic

  1. PWC is a tough sell being outside the beltway and nowhere close to a major airport. Not making excuses, it’s just a reality. I am nowhere near an expert on these matters but clearly the aforementioned factors have to weigh heavily on large contracting firms, corporations, etc.

    1. Except Stafford County is even further and they’re attracting better industies. Plus we’re not that far from Dulles in the western end of the county and typically a 30-minute reverse commute from Reagan. Our biggest issues are the BPOL tax, a broken county permit and regulatory system, and a lack of vision to be anything other than a bedroom community.

    2. Exactly Kipp………….we need to be about 20 miles west (Dulles) and 20 miles north (DC)…………but WE’RE NOT………end of story. Kathleen Seefelt and her BOCS recognized this about 20 years ago when they developed Innovation at Prince William that today continues to struggle to find industry…………..we will get it………….20-30 years from now………….as the Metro area matures……….but sobbing about it does little good……………i was hoping Potomac Shores would open up PWC…………….but even that moves at a snails pace…………..

    3. Ken, the good news is Potomac Shores is coming online now and a lot faster in some ways. The golf course officially opens on May 5 and they’re working on advancing the funding for the parkway to connect it with Route 1 so they can build it within the next few years.

      That being said, no one has yet to provide an answer as to why Stafford can attract better paying jobs than PWC can when Stafford is even further from airports than we are. Gainesville is roughly 30 minutes from Dulles (going with traffic) and Woodbridge / Dumfries are roughtly 30 minutes from Reagan (as a reverse commute.)

  2. Funny, I don’t recall too many people complaining about a local economy so dependent on the government during the golden years of War on Terror and dual war spending. Everybody was flocking to the area for their six-figure clearance jobs, but now that the feeding frenzy is slowing down everyone has become born-again libertarians.

    I just find it ironic that many of the people in PWC who complain about a growing county government have been suckling at the federal teat either as a govie or a contractor for the last 10 or 20 years.

    1. Those post 9/11 jobs were what drew many people to this area…that’s true. We’ve lived here nearly 30 years, so I feel comfortable telling you that I’ve been saying the same thing about our local economy for nearly that long.

      What you are leaving out, Joe, is all those other people who are dependent upon the former government workers are also in trouble. The nail salons, the dry cleaners, maid services will soon be followed by retail if we don’t find some jobs in or near PWC.

      Our solution of building houses to fund the local economy has run out of line. The need for schools and public services has far outpaced proffers.

      …and I find your comment above rude and disrespectful. The hardest thing in these last 14 months of unemployment for my husband and me has been the lack of doing meaningful work. We have always been proud to work for the government, for 20 years in the military and for 20 years for companies who contract with the government. We have always served our country.

    2. Connie, I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis of the situation in PWC. Yes, the service sector will suffer with the stagnation in growth. I think what we’re experiencing in the DC metro area is simply a cool-down of the red-hot growth that occurred Post 9/11. NoVA is no longer “the place to be” for new college grads and separated military, jobs are more scarce and honestly other cities have improved their economies since the recession as well. As a result many people are choosing to either stay local or move back to their hometowns.

      Yes, building housing is not the solution to the problem, and I also agree that proffers need to be reformed. The county government (and others) seem to base all of their projections on this wonderful recovery that the area is making, when in reality the slowdown is just beginning. To really get through this what the area really needs is to diversify with well-paying private sector jobs. And I mean ‘real’ private sector jobs, as in the ones that aren’t reliant on the federal government for survival.

      I didn’t mean to be rude of be insensitive to your situation, I know the feeling of being unemployed myself. With all due respect though, maybe it’s a sign to consider leaving the government-supported realm altogether and starting fresh. After serving in the military and roughly 6+ years in the contracting arena, I got tired of seeing underachieving people make a career of flying under the radar and not providing any value to the American taxpayer. I moved on to a role that doesn’t rely on the government for business in any way whatsoever, and yes, I had to take a pay cut, but I don’t regret it in the least.

  3. Thanks for your response, Joe. I am probably overly sensitive. I am glad you were able to find other employment. Unfortunately, my husband has been unable to do so…even when offering to take lower pay and to work with no benefits and part time. He’s 63 and an expert in large Oracle databases…not much call for that profession in firms with 1-25 employees,like many of the businesses in PWC.

    At any rate, I didn’t intend to bring my personal saga into the discussion, so I apologize.

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