Divide between rich and poor grows in D.C., report finds

WASHINGTON — As the job market improves in the D.C. metro area, the income disparity between the rich and poor is growing, according to a new study by a team of research groups.

The report, called “Bursting the Bubble: The Challenges of Working and Living in the National Capital Region,” finds the number of job opportunities has been dropping consistently for employees without a college education.

Since 2007 the area lost about 110,000 jobs for those without college degrees, the researchers from the Commonwealth Institute, D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and the Maryland Center on Economic Policy find.

Over the same period, college-educated workers have seen their job opportunities grow. They now have around 200,000 more positions from which to choose.

Wages for those with only a high school diploma decreased by 5 percent, according to the study.

The change has been more drastic for those who did not graduate high school. Their incomes declined by 13 percent.

The report says the following:

“Workers with some college education, but not a bachelor’s degree, have seen their wages fall 10 percent since 2007. Capital area workers with only a high school degree have seen a larger drop in inflation-adjusted or “real” median wages – 80 cents an hour – than their peers in the country as a whole, who have seen a 51- cent dip.”

For employees with a college degree, it has been a 180-degree difference. They have seen wages grow by 9 percent.

Real wages for the highest-wage workers, those earning at least $43.07 per hour, have grown by an average of $4.11 per hour since 2007, a gain of $8,220 per year fro a full-time, year-round worker. Workers at the median (earning $22,07 per hour) saw an increase of just 16 cents per hour.

The report find construction employment remains 22 percent lower than pre- recession levels, a loss of almost 40,000 jobs. For the information sector, there’s been a loss of 18,024 jobs. It’s down 19 percent. Jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities fields are down 5 percent or 22,882 jobs.

employment (Courtesy TCI)

The researchers say the divide between the rich and poor is worse in the D.C. area when compared to the nation as a whole.

Around D.C., the lowest-wage workers take home 16 cents for every dollar high-wage workers earn.

Nationally, the lowest-wage workers make about 21 cents for every dollar earned by high-wage employees.

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