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Ahead of #KeepMetroOpen Rally, Mayor Bowser Releases Report on DC’s Nightlife Industry

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

(Washington, DC) – Today, ahead of her rally in support of restoring late-night service hours at Metro, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture Shawn Townsend released a new report on the economic impact of DC’s nightlife industry. The report provides an overview of the successes and challenges of DC’s nightlife industry – a $7.1 billion industry that supports nearly 65,000 jobs, more than 2,400 businesses, and $562 million in annual tax revenue. With many (54%) of late-night workers living outside the District, one of the major challenges raised by industry leaders and workers was transportation. Specifically, 81% of surveyed establishments reported that extending Metro’s hours would benefit their business.

“Washington, DC is no longer a one-business, government town with a 9-5 schedule. We are a city of innovators, creatives, and change-makers – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Mayor Bowser. “We established the Office of Nightlife and Culture to ensure we’re building a nightlife industry that works for everyone – where people can live, work, and play side by side. What we know today is that one of the simplest and most obvious ways to support nightlife workers from across the region is to return late-night service at Metro.”

“Mayor Bowser has tasked DMPED with three tasks: jobs, affordable housing, and tax revenue. This report underscores that DC’s nightlife economy directly and indirectly impacts all three positively,” said Acting Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “The report also highlights the region’s interconnectedness. If we continue to work together as a city and a region, we will help more workers, more businesses, and all of our economies will thrive.”

In October 2018, Mayor Bowser signed the “Office and Commission of Nightlife Establishment Act of 2017,” legislation introduced by Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, establishing the District’s first Office of Nightlife and Culture. With the creation of the Office of Nightlife and Culture, Washington, DC joined more than 30 major cities in the United States and around the world – including New York City, Berlin, Paris, London, and Amsterdam – that have similar entities to manage their after-hours industries.

“The District’s nightlife is thriving, and this first of its kind report is going help us continue to grow in ways that work for residents, businesses, visitors, and workers,” said Director Townsend. “The nightlife and culture industry in DC is vast – yes, it includes restaurants and bars and nightclubs, but it also includes sports and all the teams that make us the District of Champions; it includes music like Go-Go and punk rock; it includes art, and theater, and history. There is so much culture to uplift and celebrate and so many workers to support, and that’s what this report is going to help us do.”

“I am proud to have established the Office of Nightlife and Culture and am thrilled of all the work this office has done. Nightlife in our city accounts for roughly 64,000 jobs and generates roughly $7 billion annually in revenue,” said Councilmember Todd. “This office is critical to coordinating efforts between our nightlife establishments and the District government and to ensuring that all residents and tourists can enjoy our vibrant after-hours economy safely.”

“In addition to helping to make the District of Columbia a vibrant, world-class city, our outstanding nightlife nurtures entrepreneurship and employment and keeps our economy thriving,” said Ward 5 Councilmember, and Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, Kenyan McDuffie.

Highlights from the report, which can be found HERE, include:

  • Nightlife establishments provide employment opportunities for those looking for an income source during off-peak work hours. Approximately 57% of employment in the nightlife industry is comprised of part-time jobs, a source of flexible employment increasingly important in today’s economy. These jobs generate nearly $3.1 billion in salary and wages for the industry’s 64,980 jobs.
  • All nightlife industries report that more than half of their revenue is generated on weekends. Nightclubs report a higher portion of revenue on weekends (78%) than any of the other three industry types.
  • Nightlife industries report that between 75% and 88% of their gross revenue is generated after 5:00 p.m.
  • Nightclubs and bars report the highest percentages of gross revenue earned between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. with 68% and 50% generated during these hours, respectively.

The Mayor will be joined at today’s rally by members of her Administration; Kamal Ali, the owner of Ben’s Chili Bowl/Ben's Next Door; Lee Simmons, Ben’s Next Door employee; Kathy E. Hollinger, President of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington; Joshua Armstead, Vice President at Unite Here Local 23; Jamie Contreras, Vice President at SEIU Local 32BJ; representatives from the DC Nightlife Council and the DC Bar and Restaurant Workers Alliance; ANC Commissioners; and nightlife workers. Following the rally, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will host their FY2021 Budget Public Hearing where stakeholders from the nightlife industry are expected to speak in favor of returning late-night service.