New Census Data: 110,000 D.C. Residents Live Below Poverty Line

WASHINGTON -- Earlier this week, nation's capital was crowned the sixth-best city in the United States to live in by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The magazine had this to say about D.C.:

There are great bars, endless restaurants for hobnobbing, and some of the best museums on the planet. On the downside, however, Washington suffers from the second-highest level of violent crime on this list and a poverty level that nears one in five citizens. The city is much in demand, however, with fine schools and the lowest foreclosure rate on our list.

About that poverty level: The numbers are worth digging into a little more closely. According to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the District of Columbia's poverty rate is now the third highest in the nation at 19.9 percent, trailing only Mississippi and Louisiana.

Policy researcher Kathryn Baer dug in deeper, examining data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey which tell a more detailed story about poverty in the nation's capital. While the overall poverty rate, as determined from the ACS numbers, was not as high as the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey from 2010 -- 19.2 percent versus 19.9 percent -- the ACS data suggests that nearly 110,000 people in the District live below the poverty line.

D.C.'s child poverty rate increased to 30.4 percent -- that's roughly 30,500 children. Baer paints a grim picture:

To my mind, the child poverty rate rings the loudest alarm bells because we’ve got volumes of research showing that children who live in poverty have much higher risks of poor health, developmental delays, academic difficulties and other problems;

These, the research shows, pave the way for lifelong poverty -- and thus another generation of children who are born with two strikes against them.

All this, as Washington City Paper's Lydia DePillis notes, puts Thursday's headlines about wealth declining in the suburbs in perspective.

UPDATE, 12:15 p.m.: Baer, in our comments, also notes that when the new ACS statistics are compared state by state, the District of Columbia's poverty rate is higher than any other state. Alabama and Kentucky tie for second place, according to an analysis by the Coalition on Human Needs. D.C.'s child-poverty rate is the second-worst in the nation, topped by Mississippi.

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