By 2014, Blacks Won't Be D.C. Majority: Analyst

New research suggests that the nation’s capital isn’t what it used to be

Monday, Feb 14, 2011  |  Updated 1:00 PM EDT
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Washington isn’t what it used to be -- mainly because the people that live here now are a lot richer.

The Washington Post recently reported the results of new research by the Brookings Institution.  It found that from 2000 to 2009, the District gained 39,000 households with incomes of $75,000 or higher.  During that same period, the city lost 37,600 households with incomes of $50,000 or less.

According to the Washington Post, these numbers refer to a “job market that is creating tens of thousands of high-paid and high skilled positions, but hemorrhaging lower level ones.”

It also seems there’s been a shift with the city’s ethnicity.  According to the Brookings Institution research, the city’s proportion of black residents dropped from 59.4 percent to 52.7 percent, while the proportion of white residents grew from 27.8 percent to 33.3 percent.

Benjamin Orr, a research analyst at Brookings's Metropolitan Policy Program took these numbers one-step further.  He told the Washington Post "I forecast that by 2014, African Americans would no longer be the majority in the District."

All this extra income isn’t a bad thing for the city.  According to the Washington Post, the increase in affluent households means more tax revenue, and more money being spent at high-end stores and restaurants.  That’s good news for a city that’s trying to fill a $440 million budget deficit.

One reason for this could be that many of the new jobs being created are high-paying, high-skilled jobs. 

John McClain, deputy director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University tells the Washington Post that the District gained 64,000 jobs between 2000 and 2009.  Many of those jobs were for high-skilled workers with the government and professional services.

So what are city leaders to do?  According to the Washington Post, the D.C. Council is considering a proposal to strengthen job training programs and a requirement for city contractors to hire residents.

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