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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Just miles from the White House and Capitol Hill, the nation's halls of power, exists an unemployment crisis nearly unmatched across the entire country.

D.C.'s Ward 8 is home to a rich African-American cultural history. For years, the area has also been home to an unemployment rate that's topped 25 percent, but that economic deep freeze is finally starting to thaw.

Mayor Vincent Gray tells WUSA9, "We've come from 25.4 percent down to 17.7 percent. That's huge. That's about a one-third drop in unemployment in an area of the city where unemployment is a way of life."

In December, the District's overall unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent. While still above the national average, it was the lowest rate for D.C. in five years.

The old St. Elizabeth's campus in Ward 8 has stood vacant and crumbling for years. Now the area is attracting new jobs and new tenants, including one of the biggest names in technology: Microsoft. Throughout the city, the mayor says D.C.'s government has "invested well over $150 million in construction projects of one kind or another." New projects mean new construction jobs. The city is also experiencing an upswing in hospitality and retail jobs.

Projects like St Elizabeths will also provide opportunities for community entrepreneurs. Micro-loans and training are available through the city government to those who want to open small businesses that will cater to the thousands of workers who will be based in the area.

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