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The District’s poorest residents keep getting poorer while their more-affluent peers continue to consolidate wealth, according to a new report by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.
Relying on U.S. Census data from 2007 through 2014, DCFPI’s analysis finds that the top 20 percent of earners in D.C. made an average of $280,000 in 2014, whereas the bottom fifth of residents in terms of household income made less than $10,000. Moreover, although the average household income among the top quintile shrunk by roughly two percent from 2007 to 2014, that of the lowest quintile dropped by almost 14 percent. The earners in between, meanwhile, saw their household incomes grow in that period.
“Between the concentration of wealth at the top, and extreme poverty at the bottom, the nation’s capital is a poster child for income inequality,” said Peter Tuths, author of the report.
Income figures were adjusted for inflation to 2014 dollars. The report notes that in 2014, the top five percent of households by earnings had an average income that was 52 times the average income of the bottom fifth of households. The Great Recession has disparately burdened these residents, Tuths says, in particular people of color: In 2014, about three of four of the poorest households were headed by them.
Additionally, the report shows that inequality in D.C. outpaces inequality in its environs. “The richest fifth of D.C. households have incomes that are 30 times higher than the poorest fifth, and the richest families in D.C.’s suburbs have incomes that are 10 to 14 times higher than the poorest families there,” the report says.
To help close the gap between rich and poor—which is growing in other major cities nationwide, the report notes—DCFPI recommends investing in affordable housing, job training, and benefits, among other things.
You can read the full report here.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery; screenshots via DCFPI report