I guess D.C. will have to find a new moniker. According to new research, “Chocolate City” will be a thing of the past by 2014.
Like many urban centers (Harlem, Brooklyn, San Francisco) Washington D.C. has undergone a drastic demographic shift. Once a hub of bustling African-American life, the Capital city has increasingly become less and less Black over the past decade. Most of the shift is due to the fact that the city’s newest transplants are a lot richer, which inevitably has forced many of its lower income residents out.
A new report from the Brookings Institute 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.”
Also according to the report, the rates of Black residents are dropping while Whites are moving into the city at much higher rates.
“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.”
The Washington Post asserts the numbers of individuals moving out of the city is directly related to jobs. The “job market that is creating tens of thousands of high-paid and high skilled positions, but hemorrhaging lower level ones,” it writes.
Although Washington D.C. has a relatively low unemployment rate—just 5.7 percent—for Black residents it is more than three times that, at 18.9 percent (compared with 2.5 percent for whites). Even as job seekers are moving to D.C. to find higher-skilled positions, many of the District’s Black residents are undereducated and cannot take part in the job boom.
Due to the shifts in income levels and the numbers of middle and lower class residents moving out of the city, Benjamin Orr, a research analysts with Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, predicts Blacks will no longer be the majority in Washington D.C.
“The shrinking African American population and the growing white population show the way in which poverty is distributed in both those populations,” he said. “I forecast that by 2014, African Americans would no longer be the majority in the District.”
Armed with the Brookings data, D.C. officials have taken up efforts to address the skills and education mismatch that plague the city’s residents. According to The Washington Post, The D.C. Council is also considering a proposal that would ramp up job training programs as well as institute a requirement for city contractors to hire D.C. residents.