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Protesters dressed as Charles Dickens descended on the Wilson Building yesterday to protest what they view as a “tale of two cities.” The line, borrowed from Dickens by way of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, refers to the growing divide between the city’s haves and have-nots.
In the District, that divide is among the biggest in America. A report out today from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute finds that income inequality in the District is the fourth-highest among the 50 largest cities in the country—-higher than in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
The richest 5 percent of Washingtonians make 54 times what the poorest 20 percent make. The top 5 percent of earners make an average of $531,769, the highest in America; the bottom quintile earns an average of just $9,900.
Atlanta has the biggest gap between rich and poor; the top 5 percent there take in 74 times the average income of the lowest 20 percent. In Boston, that number is 61, and in Miami it’s 54. Virginia Beach has the lowest inequality of the 50 largest cities, with its richest 5 percent making just 17 times as much as the poorest 20 percent.
D.C.’s yawning income gap could soon begin to close. In January, Mayor Vince Gray signed a bill to increase the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $11.50 an hour by 2016. As things stand, that’ll be the highest minimum wage in the country.
Chart from the DCFPI report