District of Columbia Traffic-Washington-DC

Published on September 20th, 2012



From DC Fiscal Policy Institute: One-in-five DC residents—approximately 123,000–live in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released today. The Census also found that poverty has grown notably in DC in recent years, as median income for the District has remained relatively flat. The rise in poverty partly reflects the fact that unemployment in the city continued to rise after the official end of the recession and continues to remain high for some groups of residents. The poverty line is $17,900 for a family of three and $23,000 for a family of four.

The new findings are based on Census data that is best used to describe income and poverty changes at the national level. More detailed and reliable data for DC and the states will be released by the Census Bureau next Thursday, Sept. 20.

Today’s Census Bureau data also show that the number of DC residents lacking health insurance — about 12 percent of residents under age 65 — has not changed and remains one of the lower rates in the nation, especially among children. However, the share of residents getting health insurance from an employer has fallen significantly, which could be due both to falling employment and a reduction in the number of employers providing it. However, this decline has been offset, by a substantial increase in Medicaid coverage—government-sponsored healthcare that is jointly paid for with state and federal dollars.

The District’s 19.7 percent poverty rate for 2010-2011 returns the city to its highest level over the past decade, a 2.5 percentage point increase over 2008-2009[1]. This means 19,000 more DC residents came below the federal poverty line in these two years. After falling in the mid-2000s, DC’s poverty rate has been on the rise for the last several years and has almost returned to the high point of the last decade in 2005-06 (See Figure).

The jump in poverty largely reflects unemployment that remains stubbornly high for some groups of DC residents.  Unemployment among District residents with a high school diploma reached 25 percent at the end of 2011, compared with a 10 percent rate in 2007. Similarly, unemployment among Black residents is twice as high today than before the recession started, while the unemployment rate for whites has nearly returned to pre-recession levels.

Median household income in the District was $57,000 in 2010-2011, compared with $54,600 in 2005-2006 before the recession. However, this increase was not statistically significant.

To read the full report, click here.

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