Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and also known as D.C. or just Washington, is the capital city of the United States. It is located on the east bank of the Potomac River which forms its southwestern and southern border with Virginia, and shares a land border with Maryland on its remaining sides. The city was named for George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father, and the federal district is named after Columbia, a female personification of the nation. As the seat of the U.S. federal government and several international organizations, the city is an important world political capital. It is one of the most visited cities in the U.S., seeing over 20 million visitors in 2016.
The U.S. Constitution provides for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; the district is therefore not a part of any U.S. state (nor is it one itself). The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River near the country's East Coast. The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the national capital, and Congress held its first session there in 1800. In 1801, the territory, formerly part of Maryland and Virginia (including the settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria), officially became recognized as the federal district. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia, including the city of Alexandria; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the district. There have been efforts to make the city into a state since the 1880s, a movement that has gained momentum in recent years, and a statehood bill passed the House of Representatives in 2021.
The city is divided into quadrants centered on the Capitol Building, and there are as many as 131 neighborhoods. According to the 2020 Census, it has a population of 689,545, which makes it the 20th-most populous city in the U.S. and gives it a population larger than that of two U.S. states: Wyoming and Vermont. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth-largest (including parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia), had a 2019 estimated population of 6.3 million residents.
The three branches of the U.S. federal government are centered in the district: Congress (legislative), the president (executive), and the Supreme Court (judicial). Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, the AARP, the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, the International Finance Corporation, and the American Red Cross.
A locally elected mayor and a 13-member council have governed the district since 1973. Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. D.C. residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives, but the district has no representation in the Senate. District voters choose three presidential electors in accordance with the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961.
Washington DC is located in the Washington metropolitan area. The Washington metropolitan area (also known as the National Capital Region and colloquially as the DMV for "D.C., Maryland, Virginia") is the metropolitan area centered on Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The area includes all of the federal district and parts of the U.S. states of Maryland, Virginiaand West Virginia. It is part of the larger Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.
The Washington D.C. metropolitan area is one of the most educated and most affluent metropolitan areas in the US. The metro area anchors the southern end of the densely populated Northeast megalopolis with an estimated total population of 6,385,162 as of the 2020 U.S. Census, making it the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the nation and the largest metropolitan area in the Census Bureau's South Atlantic division.
Hispanic or Latino of any race: 11.0%
White (non-Hispanic): 36.6%
Black (non-Hispanic): 46.3%
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the district's population was 705,749 as of July 2019, an increase of more than 100,000 people compared to the 2010 United States Census. When measured on a decade-over-decade basis, this continues a growth trend since 2000, following a half-century of population decline. But on a year-over-year basis, the July 2019 census count shows a population decline of 16,000 individuals over the preceding 12-month period. Washington was the 24th most populous place in the United States as of 2010. According to data from 2010, commuters from the suburbs increase the district's daytime population to over a million.
The Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes the district and surrounding suburbs, is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the United States with an estimated six million residents in 2014. When the Washington area is included with Baltimore and its suburbs, the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area had a population exceeding 9.8 million residents in 2020, the third-largest combined statistical area in the country.
Washington has had a significant African American population since the city's foundation. African American residents composed about 30% of the district's total population between 1800 and 1940. The black population reached a peak of 70% by 1970, but has since steadily declined due to many African Americans moving to the surrounding suburbs. Partly as a result of gentrification, there was a 31.4% increase in the non-Hispanic white population and an 11.5% decrease in the black population between 2000 and 2010. According to a study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, D.C. has experienced more "intense" gentrification than any other American city, with 40% of neighborhoods gentrified.
About 17% of D.C. residents were age 18 or younger in 2010, lower than the U.S. average of 24%. However, at 34 years old, the district had the lowest median age compared to the 50 states. As of 2010, there were an estimated 81,734 immigrants living in Washington, D.C. Major sources of immigration include El Salvador, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, with a concentration of Salvadorans in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
Researchers found that there were 4,822 same-sex couples in the District of Columbia in 2010, about 2% of total households. Legislation authorizing same-sex marriage passed in 2009, and the district began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March 2010.
A 2007 report found that about a third of district residents were functionally illiterate, compared to a national rate of about one in five. This is attributed in part to immigrants who are not proficient in English. As of 2011, 85% of D.C. residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language. Half of residents had at least a four-year college degree in 2006. In 2017, the median household income in D.C. was $77,649; also in 2017, D.C. residents had a personal income per capita of $50,832 (higher than any of the 50 states). However, 19% of residents were below the poverty level in 2005, higher than any state except Mississippi. In 2019, the poverty rate stood at 14.7%.
Of the district's population, 17% is Baptist, 13% is Catholic, 6% is evangelical Protestant, 4% is Methodist, 3% is Episcopalian/Anglican, 3% is Jewish, 2% is Eastern Orthodox, 1% is Pentecostal, 1% is Buddhist, 1% is Adventist, 1% is Lutheran, 1% is Muslim, 1% is Presbyterian, 1% is Mormon, and 1% is Hindu.
As of 2010, more than 90% of D.C. residents had health insurance coverage, the second-highest rate in the nation. This is due in part to city programs that help provide insurance to low-income individuals who do not qualify for other types of coverage. A 2009 report found that at least three percent of district residents have HIV or AIDS, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) characterizes as a "generalized and severe" epidemic.
HOUSING UNITS: 572,059
OWNER-OCCUPIED HOUSING UNIT RATE: 41.6%
MEDIAN VALUE OF HOUSING UNIT: $675,400
MEDIAN GROSS RENT: $1,541
Washington has seen the job market increase by 1.8% over the last year. Future job growth over the next ten years is predicted to be 33.7%, which is higher than the US average of 33.5%.
Tax Rates for Washington
The Sales Tax Rate for Washington is 5.8%. The US average is 7.3%.
The Income Tax Rate for Washington is 6.5%. The US average is 4.6%.
Tax Rates can have big impact when Comparing Cost of Living.
Income and Salaries for Philadelphia
The average income of a Washington resident is $46,502 a year. The US average is $28,555 a year.
The Median household income of a Washington resident is $69,235 a year. The US average is $53,482 a year.
The Washington, D.C. area has the largest science and engineering work force of any metropolitan area in the nation in 2006 according to the Greater Washington Initiative at 324,530, ahead of the combined San Francisco Bay Areawork force of 214,500, and Chicago metropolitan area at 203,090, citing data from U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Claritas Inc., and other sources.
The Washington, D.C. area was ranked as the second best High-Tech Center in a statistical analysis of the top 100 Metropolitan areas in the United States by American City Business Journals in May 2009, behind the Silicon Valley and ahead of the Boston metropolitan area. Fueling the metropolitan area's ranking was the reported 241,264 tech jobs in the region, a total eclipsed only by New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the highest master's or doctoral degree attainment among the 100 ranked metropolitan areas. A Dice.com report showed that the Washington–Baltimore area had the second-highest number of tech jobs listed: 8,289, after the New York metro area with 9,195 jobs.
Washington has a growing, diversified economy with an increasing percentage of professional and business service jobs. The district's gross state product in 2018-Q2 was $141 billion. The Washington Metropolitan Area's gross product was $435 billion in 2014, making it the sixth-largest metropolitan economy in the United States. Between 2009 and 2016, GDP per capita in Washington has consistently ranked on the very top among U.S. states. In 2016, at $160,472, its GDP per capita is almost three times as high as that of Massachusetts, which was ranked second in the nation. As of 2011, the Washington Metropolitan Area had an unemployment rate of 6.2%; the second-lowest rate among the 49 largest metro areas in the nation. The District of Columbia itself had an unemployment rate of 9.8% during the same time period.
In December 2017, 25% of the employees in Washington, D.C., were employed by a federal governmental agency. This is thought to immunize Washington, D.C., to national economic downturns because the federal government continues operations even during recessions. Many organizations such as law firms, defense contractors, civilian contractors, nonprofit organizations, lobbying firms, trade unions, industry trade groups, and professional associations have their headquarters in or near Washington, D.C., in order to be close to the federal government. The city of Rosslyn, Virginia, located across the Potomac River from D.C., serves as a base of operations for several Fortune 500 companies, due to the building height restrictions in place within the District of Columbia. In 2018, Amazon announced they would build "HQ 2" in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia.
Tourism is Washington's second-largest industry. Approximately 18.9 million visitors contributed an estimated $4.8 billion to the local economy in 2012. The district also hosts nearly 200 foreign embassies and international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Pan American Health Organization. In 2008, the foreign diplomatic corps in Washington employed about 10,000 people and contributed an estimated $400 million annually to the local economy.
The district has growing industries not directly related to government, especially in the areas of education, finance, public policy, and scientific research. Georgetown University, George Washington University, Washington Hospital Center, Children's National Medical Center and Howard University are the top five non-government-related employers in the city as of 2009. According to statistics compiled in 2011, four of the largest 500 companies in the country were headquartered in the district. In the 2021 Global Financial Centres Index, Washington was ranked as having the 14th most competitive financial center in the world, and fourth most competitive in the United States (after New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles).