New Census Figures Show Poverty Is on the Rise in the District of Columbia

Data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that poverty rose in the District in 2005, despite overall economic growth in the city. 

  • Some 19.1 percent of DC residents had income below the federal poverty line in 2004-2005, compared with 16.9 percent in 2003-2004.  (The Census Bureau recommends using two-year averages due to the small sample size for DC in their survey.)  The poverty line, which is adjusted for family size, equaled $19,971 for a family of four in 2005.
  • The number of DC residents in poverty rose by more than 10,000 ‘ from 93,000 in 2003-04 to 104,000 in 2004-05.
  • The DC poverty rate in 2004-05 is higher than at any time since 1998-99.

The growth in poverty in the District occurred despite strong overall economic performance.  The number of employed DC residents grew around 4,000 between 2004 and 2005, and the unemployment rate fell from 7.5 percent to 6.5 percent.

“DC’s economy simply is not working for its most needy residents,” said Ed Lazere, executive director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute.  “Poverty should be on the decline, not rising, with an economy as strong as ours.”

The new Census Bureau figures also show median household income in DC went from $46,400 in 2003-04 to $44,900 in 2004-05. (Both figures are adjusted for inflation to equal 2005 dollars.)  The change was not statistically significant, however, which means the data show no real change in median income.

Latest Publications