The Census Bureau recently released social and economic data from the 2008American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is a nationwide survey conducted yearly by the U.S. Census Bureau. Unlike the Decennial Census, the ACS collects and produces population and housing data every year based on sample estimates.

What does the 2008 ACS tells us about the District of Columbia? Below is a basic social and economic snapshot of the District in 2008.

Total population: 591,833.

Gender and age: Female: 53%; Male: 47%. Median age: 35.


Race/ethnicity: White: 38%; Black: 53%; Hispanic: 9%.

Educational attainment for population 25 and over: Less than high school: 15%; High school: 20%;
Some college/Associate’s degree: 18%; Bachelor’s degree: 22%; Graduate or professional degree: 27%.


Income and poverty: Median household income: $57,936. Median household income for Whites: $101,171; Median household income for Blacks: $39,182.

Percent of families at or below the federal poverty line: 14%. Percent of female-headed families at or below the federal poverty line: 27%.


Marital Status: Married: 25%; Divorced: 10%; Never married: 56%.

Commute to work: Public transportation: 36%; Walk: 12%; Bike: 2%; Work from home: 5%.

In general, the District population continues to grow (population in 2007 was 588,292) and remains a majority Black city (although the percent Black has been declining over the past several years). The District is also fairly educated and young. While the District has a larger median household income compared to other parts of the country, there is a sizable difference by race. The median household income for Whites is about $60,000 more than the median household income for Blacks.

Keep in mind these data are for 2008 and do not reflect current economic conditions or show effects of the economic recession. We will have to wait until next year for that data.

Lynda Laughlin is a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau. She holds a PhD in sociology and enjoys reading, writing, and researching issues related to families and communities, urban economics, and urban development. Lynda lives in Mt. Pleasant. Views expressed here are strictly her own.