New Census Data Reveal Growing Income Gaps in the District

by Katie Kerstetter, Jenny Reed, and Ed Lazere | September 22nd, 2009 | PDF of this report

Income figures for 2008 released today from the Census Bureau show that household incomes in the District did not change significantly in the most recent year, but there have been notable changes over the past decade.  In particular, the data reveal growing gaps in income by race and educational level and by geography.  While incomes have risen for white households and those with the most advanced educations, incomes have been stagnant or falling for others.  In addition, incomes have risen only in the western part of the city, while dropping or remaining flat in others.

Median household income in the District of Columbia rose from $56,400 in 2007 to $57,900 in 2008, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. (All figures in this analysis are adjusted for inflation to equal 2008 dollars.) The approximately $1,500 increase however, was not statistically significant.  Since 2000, median household in the District has increased by nearly $7,000 — with most of that occurring since 2005 — a 13 percent increase that is statistically significant.

These income figures do not reflect the most serious effects of the recent economic downturn, which became most severe in 2009.  When data for 2009 are released next year, they likely will show that incomes have fallen.

Click here to read the full report.