Sep 14, 2023 - News

D.C. metro's median income drops from pre-pandemic

Change in the share of D.C. metro area households, by income
Data: U.S. Census Bureau. Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Median household income dropped 3.9% in the D.C. metropolitan area since pre-pandemic, while the share of residents earning more than $100,000 grew, according to new census data released this morning.

Why it matters: The D.C. region remains one of the most prosperous in the nation, but income declined as inflation took a bite out of our paychecks.

By the numbers: Median household income fell from $122,140 in 2019 to $117,432 last year. The 2019 figure has been adjusted for inflation.

  • The share of households earning $49,000 or less dropped from 22% to 19%.
  • Meanwhile, 58% of households earned $100,000 or more, up from 53%.

Zoom in: The D.C. metro area, including the District, suburbs, and as far as parts of eastern West Virginia, saw its population increase by 2.4% between 2021 and 2022.

  • The District's population edged up only slightly by 0.3% to 671,803. That's a far cry from the booming 2010s. D.C.'s recent population peak of nearly 690,000 residents came in 2020.
Change in median household income, 2019 to 2022
Data: U.S. Census Bureau. Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The big picture: Incomes dropped nationwide. The U.S. median household income fell 1.6% between 2019 and 2022, adjusted for inflation.

  • Meanwhile, the share of American households making $100,000 or more rose from 34% to 37%.

The intrigue: While the median household income fell, the poverty rate did not increase in any state — and improved notably in D.C., where it fell 3.1%, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick writes. (It's possible for median household income to fall somewhat without hauling a large number of families below the poverty line.)

Of note: Because this release is based on 2022 data, it's capturing what some call the "late pandemic era," when many elements of normality returned but the pandemic still loomed in the background, affecting many aspects of life.

Between the lines: The pandemic "changed the geography of where money is made in the United States," Axios' Neil Irwin reports, and D.C. saw a $1.6 billion loss in taxable income from migration between 2020 and 2021.


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