Poverty and the District

7 years ago by in 2011, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , , , , ,
One in five D.C. residents is poor.  That statistic is the motivation for this issue of the American Observer.


The nation’s capital is in the top three in the country with the highest poverty rate, trailing only New Mexico and Mississippi.

About 19.2 percent of the District’s 601,723 residents were poor in 2010, according to census figures released this month. The figure is higher among children under 18 — about 30 percent.

Yet, the District is part of a metropolitan region with the smallest percentage of people living in poverty in the country. About 8.4 percent of residents in the Washington metropolitan region were poor in 2010 — the lowest poverty rate of any major metropolitan area in the country.

Since the recession began in 2007, the District has not been immune to economic challenges.

The jobless rate in the District remained at 11.1 percent in September, higher than the national rate of about 9 percent and the city’s 5.5 percent unemployment rate in January 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment seems to be a bigger problem in the city than in neighboring Maryland and Virginia, where unemployment in September was at 7.4 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.

Homelessness has also increased significantly, as has the poverty level among single-parent households headed by women. Community organizations that provide help to the poor report greater demand for their services.

Somewhat surprisingly, the property values in the District have increased despite the economic climate.

Our staff of 22 multimedia reporters and editors has spent the last two weeks exploring the problem of poverty in our city, examining the issues and the community’s concerns. With personal stories and concrete facts, this issue of the Observer highlights the challenges and hopes of the District’s poor.

Luz Lazo and Alex Murray

The American University School of Communication Graduate Program in Journalism works to prepare students for the realities of today's news and information space and the challenges of tomorrow. Find out more by visiting us online at soc.american.edu

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