Economic segregation is still a big problem in cities like Washington, D.C.

Last week I posted a map of the "poverty belt" based on the new results from the U.S. Census. That same special briefing report [PDF] also included this map of poverty in the District of Columbia. 

The map, which is based on data from the Census' 2006-2010 American Community Survey, shows the percentage of people in D.C. living below the poverty line by Census tract. While the concentration of poverty is familiar to those who live and work there, the map puts the matter in stark relief.

The poorest tracts – those in purple shades – are concentrated in the Southeast quadrant of the District, while the tracts with the lowest levels of poverty – those shaded in light blue – are concentrated in the city's historically privileged Northwest.

This is nothing new for urban areas. Earlier this year, U.S. News and World Report put out a list of the most "unequal" cities. D.C. doesn't make the top ten. The top spot belongs to Norwalk, Conn., where the top 5 percent earn 28 percent of the city's wealth. (Incidentally, in the country's most equal city - Ogden-Clearfield, Utah - 17 percent of the city's income goes to the richest five percent.)

Interestingly, Washington also doesn't make the list of the top ten most segregated cities, according to data from Salon. On the list are cities like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, among others, with Milwaukee taking top place. But the author of the piece cautions that these types of top ten lists can only go so far. As he puts it, "just because your metro area didn’t make the list doesn’t mean you aren’t segregated."

Still, the D.C. map is another reminder of how concentrated poverty can remain even in a city with one of the most highly educated populations in the country, including one that has seen one of the most significant urban revivals of the past couple of decades. I'll be looking much more closely at the issue of inequality across cities and metro areas in upcoming posts.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    How 'Maintainers,' Not 'Innovators,' Make the World Turn

    We need more stories about the labor that sustains society, a group of scholars say.

  2. A photo of an abandoned building in Newark, New Jersey.
    Equity

    The 10 Cities Getting a Philanthropic Boost for Economic Mobility

    An initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group focuses on building “pipelines of opportunity.”

  3. Design

    A Designer’s Airport for the Jet Age

    As this 1958 Charles and Ray Eames film shows, Dulles was truly designed for modern air travel.

  4. A map of apartment searches in the U.S.
    Maps

    Where America’s Renters Want to Move Next

    A new report that tracks apartment searches between U.S. cities reveals the moving aspirations of a certain set of renters.

  5. A man walks by an abandoned home in Youngstown, Ohio
    Life

    How Some Shrinking Cities Are Still Prospering

    A study finds that some shrinking cities are prosperous areas with smaller, more-educated populations. But they also have greater levels of income inequality.

×