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The latest Census data from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) show that although DC median income is rising, Black residents are not benefitting much from DC’s growing prosperity, and many people of color are still struggling to make ends meet. The District must do more to break down economic barriers faced by people of color and support families in building a secure future for their children.
Overall median income in the District continues to climb, rising to $82,400 in 2017, a seven percent increase from 2016, after adjusting for inflation. However, DC’s growing prosperity is not evenly shared: while white median household income is now $134,400, an $18,000 increase since 2007 (before the Great Recession), the median income for Black families has stayed about the same at $42,000. Black median household income in DC is less than a third of white median income.
Nearly 110,000 DC residents, or one in six, live below the federal poverty line, on an income of just $25,100 for a family of four. Although the poverty rate fell in 2017 from 2016—likely due to a growing economy and recent increases in DC’s minimum wage—the share of DC residents living in poverty is the same today as in 2007. Child poverty also remains high, with 26 percent of DC children growing up in families working hard to make ends meet.
“To ensure that economic opportunity is more evenly shared throughout DC, policymakers must make bold investments that support District residents, particularly communities of color and families with children,” said Ed Lazere, Executive Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. “Raising the tipped minimum wage and ensuring that development leads to high-quality jobs would create opportunities for more District residents to prosper.”