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Economically Disadvantaged Overall

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Economically Disadvantaged Overall

Key Facts Economically Disadvantaged Overall

While Northern Virginia is known for having communities with some of the highest median incomes in the United States, we must recognize that there are segments of the community in need of assistance that live in one of the most prosperous regions in the country.

Note: The 2020 ACS one-year estimates will not be released due to the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic on data collection and a lower response rate.  The ACS collected only two-thirds of the responses it typically collects in a survey year.  It did not meet the Census Bureau’s data quality standards.  Therefore, 2019 ACS one-year estimates are the latest shown on our dashboard for the one-year estimates.


The Northern Virginia region has some of the highest household incomes in the United States.  However, there are persons in poverty in the region, and their needs must be recognized and addressed.  The poverty rates of all counties and cities in Northern Virginia are shown in the following graphs. The poverty rate is the ratio of the number of persons in poverty divided by the number of persons for whom poverty status was determined.  Not everyone had their poverty status determined so this figure will be less than the total population.

Poverty Rate - Current
2016 to 2020 Five-Year Estimates

Northern Virginia's poverty rate is 5.8%, compared to 10.0% for Virginia and 12.8% for the nation according to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.  All jurisdictions in the United States are included in the five-year American Community Survey estimates. Out of all 3,143 jurisdictions in the USA, two of the ten lowest poverty rates are located in the Northern Virginia localities of Falls Church (4th) and Loudoun County (9th). Loudoun County and Falls Church are also the number one and two ranked for median household income, respectively. However, there are persons in poverty in Loudoun, Falls Church, and the rest of the region, and their needs must be recognized and addressed.

Poverty Rate - Current
2019 One-Year Estimates

Those jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more are included in the one-year American Community Survey estimates, of which there are 829 jurisdictions. The poverty rate, for those jurisdictions in Northern Virginia with a population of 65,000 or more, is shown in this graph.  All of Northern Virginia's largest jurisdictions have poverty rates lower than the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Out of the 829 jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more in the USA, one of the ten lowest poverty rates is located in the Northern Virginia locality of Loudoun County (3rd). Loudoun County is also the number one ranked for median household income.  However, there are persons in poverty in Loudoun and the rest of the region and their needs must be recognized.

Poverty Rate - Historic Compared to Current
Five-Year Estimates

Northern Virginia's poverty rate has experienced a similar pattern to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States over time.  From 1999 to the 2011-2015 period there was an increase in the percent of persons in poverty and then in the 2016-2020 period it dropped, but it was still above the lowest levels seen in 2000.  


Note, the American Community Survey is a survey with a small sample size.  Areas with smaller populations, such as the cities of Northern Virginia, may have a larger margin of error in the data due to the survey sample size being small.  This is less of an issue the larger the population.  The margin of error is shown in the popup that is displayed when hovering over a bar in the bar charts.  In addition to the margin of error, the accuracy of the American Community Survey data for an area can be gaged by evaluating the trend.  If there is a large increase or decrease in the estimate from one time period to the next, and the margin of error is large and overlaps other periods, then the large change between time periods is likely due to statistical sampling error and the data should be used with caution.  

Poverty Rate  - Historic Compared to Current
One-Year Estimates

The poverty rate trend, for the regions large jurisdictions (population of 65,000 or more), are shown in the following graph.


Key Facts:


  • Alexandria had been trending up from 2011 until it peaked in 2016.  It has steadily decrease since 2016.

  • Arlington had an increase in poverty from 2010 until it peaked in 2013.  There was a downward trend since 2013, but in 2019, there was a large increase.  However, the 2019 poverty rate is not statistically different than 2018 and the abnormally large increase likely due to statistical errors from the small survey size.  

  • Loudoun's poverty rate peaked in 2011 and is now at one of its lowest points since then.

  • Prince William County's poverty rate was trending up from 2010 to its peak in 2016.  It has since been lower and held steady at around 6%.

  • Fairfax County has held pretty steady over time at around 6%, with all years being statistically similar when accounting for the margin of error.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Expenditures

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)  expenditures in Northern Virginia are shown in this graph, including data through December 2022. Since 2006, the peak amount of expenditures was reached in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic downturn. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and its impact on the Northern Virginia region was significant from a health and economic stand point.  In 2020, the SNAP expenditures for public and non-public combined were 10% higher than the 2013 prior peak.  

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